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Sal Monteagudo '99 networks for newcomers to Morris community

Posted by Judy Korn on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2006


A chance meeting in 2004 in Willie’s Super Valu in Morris led to UMM graduate Sal Monteagudo’s involvement with the Minnesota Literacy Council. An active community volunteer, his special interest is helping newcomers to the Morris area. When Leonardo, a native of Honduras, stopped him in the grocery-store aisle and asked if he could teach English, he wasn’t surprised.

Monteagudo answered, “Hablo poco Español.” While he didn’t have the resources to provide English lessons, he wasn’t discouraged. The expert networker began telling Leonardo’s story, first at a UMM Spanish Club meeting, then at Morris Community Education. The result was the rebirth of the then-defunct Morris Literacy Project.

Since then, the program has served 30 people, ages 18 to 60, from many different countries—Mexico, Honduras, Brazil, China, Russia, Ecuador and Bulgaria. Volunteers, many of whom are UMM students studying Spanish—and Monteagudo, tutor the English-as-a-second-language students.

“I grew up watching the hardships my mom and dad went through in their transition to America as immigrants from the Philippines,” he shares. “I saw the challenges that Hmong refugees and other immigrants face growing up in St. Paul schools. I want to share what I’ve been blessed with—my education—with others.”

The program volunteers and students meet at the Morris Area Elementary School. The Minnesota Literacy Council and the Alexandria Runestone Learning Center provided computers and software.

A 2005 Minnesota Literacy Council Outstanding Volunteer Award recipient, Monteagudo is quick to point out that the Morris Literacy Project is successful because of the efforts of many. He states: “This project would not be possible without the campus-community relationship that’s been growing over the years!”

Monteagudo is a member of the Morris Human Rights Commission, a graduate of the Blandin Community Leadership Program, and served on the Morris All-American City committee. The 1999 UMM graduate, a liberal arts for human services major, is employed by the Stevens County Developmental Achievement Center.

Photo: Sal Monteagudo