Two hundred students and tutors of Literacy Volunteers on the Green gathered recently to share a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing, vegetables and pumpkin pie.

The evening at the St. John Episcopal Church parish hall celebrated the progress and achievements of LVG's students and the work of its volunteer tutors.

A highlight was recognition for students who passed the United States naturalization test to become American citizens during the past year: Sonia Castro, of Danbury; Eunice Crowley, Julia Lopez and Liz Yenny Mendoza, all of New Milford; and Guillermina Hernandez, of Kent.

Student Rosa Escobar shared her thoughts in a speech to the gathering.

"I was born and raised in El Salvador, but like many others, I chose to come to the United States for a better life," she said. "I realized my dedication and personality could only get me so far if no one could understand me. I needed to learn the language."

"Thankfully I found Literacy Volunteers on the Green," Escobar said. "Three years later, I stand before you as a proud American citizen who can speak, read, and write English."

Escobar now works at John Pettibone School as a substitute teaching assistant.

"I am happy that I live here in New Milford," she said. "Never in my life have I lived in a place where the people are so friendly. I am grateful and appreciate that I have the chance to improve my life. Thank you to everyone who has made this program possible."

Literacy Volunteers on the Green is a nonprofit organization funded through grants and donations which provides free literacy and English as a second language instruction to adults in northern Fairfield and Litchfield counties.

LVG's goal is for students to become independent readers, writers, listeners and speakers of English, allowing them to gain comprehension through natural, authentic, real-life activities and experiences.

Students are taught by volunteers who are trained and provided with books by LVG.

LVG also sponsors a college application mentoring program at New Milford High School.

For details about programs or to volunteer, call Literacy Volunteers on the Green at 860-355-0830 or email info@lvg-ct.org.

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

Photography courtesy of Literacy Volunteers on the Green