Pictured above: Sister Paula Baker and Christa Hanson, Presentation Associate and executive director of the Learning and Loving Education Center, remove the iconic sign that welcomed students and visitors to the Center in Morgan Hill, California, following its closure on October 31, 2020.
The sign is gone, the shades are drawn and the doors are locked for the final time as October 31, 2020, marks the end of nearly three decades of the Learning and Loving Education Center in Morgan Hill, California. The center opened in 1994, guided by the vision of Sister Pat Davis to teach skills, foster hopes, and provide direction to adult immigrant women and their children living in the surrounding low and extremely low-income areas of Morgan Hill which are home to a high concentration of isolated, marginalized, illiterate and underserved women and children.
Over the next 27 years, the Center changed the lives of more than 4,000 immigrant women, children and their families through literacy, technology and basic skills education. During that time they attracted many friends and benefactors fostering an incredible, supportive community united through the spirit of Nano Nagle that was so richly embodied by the Center. Under the steady leadership of Presentation Associate Christa Hanson, who served as the executive director of the Center for the past 10 years, they also received multiple recognitions of excellence and won numerous awards, including being named the 2018 Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce’s Nonprofit of the Year.
In July 2020, the difficult decision was made to close the Center due to significant short-term and long-term sustainability concerns exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was initially hoped that even with the pandemic they would be able to open however after considering finances, the size and capacity of the Center, the students’ ability to be successful with distance learning because of inadequate resources, and the fact that the preschool is too limited in size to open, sadly there was no other realistic decision.
While the sisters, staff, board members, volunteers and students are all heartbroken that this doors had to close, as Alexander Graham Bell reportedly said, “When one door closes, a window opens.” Thanks to the generosity of the Center’s donors and grant-making foundations a special task force has plotted a path forward for current students. As part of that path, the task force has begun to apply the remaining funds to the students’ personal needs. To date they have helped with partial rent money; made available gift cards to the women to buy needed supplies, food, clothing, and school supplies for their children; purchased hotspots for internet access; provided iPads or tablets; purchases textbooks and workbooks; provided other supplies such as binders, pens/pencils, and paper; paid the testing fee for GED students, provided preschool education boxes for children who would have attended this year; and provided three scholarships to Gavilan College. Additionally, Learning and Loving Education Center teachers are continuing to teach English classes through the Morgan Hill Community Adult School and Gavilan College. So you see, the door closed on October 31, but the window opening will go on in the lives of the women and children served by the Center.
If you would like to learn more about the Center and its closure please click here to read the heartfelt letters written by Presentation Associate Christa Hanson, executive director of the Learning and Loving Education Center.