In their Words...

“I enjoy teaching and take pleasure in watching students grow.”- Allen

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Volunteer Profiles - Meet Allen

In their Words...

“I enjoy teaching and take pleasure in watching students grow.”- Allen

While originally from Dallas, Texas, Allen spent 40 years teaching English abroad and has studied 10-15 languages in his lifetime.  His love of languages dates back to 1961, when he was selected to serve as a summer exchange student in Italy by the American Field Service. He fell in love with Italy, Italian, traveling throughout Europe, and teaching. His travel passions led him to serve in the Peace Corp where he was assigned to a small village outside of Dakar in Senegal, West Africa.

“One of the villagers, who admired JFK, asked me to teach him English so he could read about him. I held classes in a hut by candlelight, relying on how I had been taught French and learned street Italian,” states Allen.

After the Peace Corps he continued his work and life abroad. He taught English for IBM France, fell in love and married a lovely Parisienne named Annie, and eventually moved onward to a teaching career at the International School of Geneva where he lived with Annie until she passed away from breast cancer in 2000.

In 2008, Allen chose to move back to the United States with his second wife Pam and they ultimately settled in Santa Cruz.  Shortly after moving to Santa Cruz a neighbor upon hearing of his interest in teaching English, recommended he reach out to the Literacy Program at the Volunteer Center. His talents were immediately utilized and 10 years later Allen is still serving as volunteer tutor.

As a tutor, he donates his time to helping adults learn English and so much more. Like many Literacy Program tutors, Allen provides a wealth of information about how life works in Santa Cruz County. Over the years he has assisted students with gaining a deeper understanding of social and work norms, navigating the local landscape and has offered crucial training for students seeking to further their education or obtain citizenship.

Allen states, “I enjoy teaching and take pleasure in watching students grow.”

Even after 40 years of teaching, Allen still deeply enjoys the learning that comes with the process.

When asked what keeps him going, “I love it, and it’s a way to say thanks to all the people I’ve met who helped me with my Italian, French, Wolof, Mandarin, Hindi, Tagalog, German, Russian, Japanese, etc., not to forget Spanish!”

Allen has watched his students’ confidence grow as they learn and he believes whole-heartedly in the mission of the Literacy Program. He regularly goes above and beyond for the Program. Every staff member at the Volunteer Center is so grateful for his warm-hearted nature and cheerful presence, from his rainbow suspenders to his bright smile.

Allen is one of more than 200 tutors changing lives through the Literacy Program. Since 1967 over 12,000 members of our community have received instruction from Literacy Program Tutors. Students come from all walks of life, but what they hold in common is the desire to build meaningful connections through literacy education.


Give Your Time

GIVE YOUR TIME: Are you inspired by Allen’s Story? You too can make a difference for adults seeking to improve their lives through literacy. We currently have a wait-list for students awaiting tutors. Learn More About Volunteering With the Literacy Program

FIND YOUR CAUSE: Still trying to discover your passion? The Volunteer Center can help. Connect with a Match-Maker

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