Pamper Lake Highlands marked a milestone Tuesday. They held a graduation ceremony – complete with honored guests and parchment diplomas – for their first class of moms learning English as a second language (ESL). The graduation was like most others. Family members hoisted cameras and graduates high-fived and hugged each other.
One in 3 mothers in America struggle to provide diapers for their babies, said Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough, hosting the event and reading from an official City Hall proclamation, and Lake Highlands is especially vulnerable. Within a 5 mile radius of Lake Highlands High School, 23% live at or near the national poverty level, almost 17% do not have a high school diploma, and 16% struggle to read, write or speak English. Pamper Lake Highlands was founded in 2014 by Caren Bright, who survived homelessness, domestic violence and extreme poverty while raising her own children. In the beginning, her simple goal was to provide diapers for children to prevent painful conditions caused by infrequent diaper changes. In 2015, 75,000 diapers were distributed. Also this year, Pamper Lake Highlands expanded their services to provide ESL, parenting classes, mental health and recovery programs and a host of other services.
D’Lane Maselunas was there to celebrate the day with “her students.”
“When Caren told me that the ESL program was starting, I felt that I was supposed to be a part of it,” said Maselunas, who has volunteered in various ways with the organization since it began. “I had no experience teaching ESL, but I was willing to give it a try. It has been an amazing experience. I love watching the ladies’ faces light up when they get a new concept or new vocabulary. Rick Knapp is my teaching partner and we try to make it fun and get the students involved in charade-type games, which leads to a lot of laughter. I really feel close to these women and I feel like I am making a difference in helping them learn English.”
Volunteers are trained through a partnership with LIFT, Literacy Instruction For Texas, and teachers need not speak the students’ language in order to help. That’s a good thing, because needy moms in Lake Highlands come from countries all over the world.
“Caren knows the struggles of many of these women she is serving,” said Laurie Bubel, another volunteer who also serves as treasurer on the Pamper LH board. “She really has a heart to see them get the help they need to improve their circumstances. By making the classes so accessible and desirable and by offering free diapers and free childcare, Caren has removed some major barriers to learning English and becoming better parents. Working with Caren and Pamper LH is one of those times when I thought I was doing something to bless others, but I found out I was the one receiving the blessing instead.”
Pamper LH partners with several local agencies to maximize benefit to moms and their children, including Methodist Children’s Home, Lake Highlands Public Improvement District, Loving All Peoples, LH Women’s League, Forest Meadow Baptist Church and LIFT.