Nonprofit tutoring center set to reopen after numerous setbacks

Like many places, the Delta Learning Center has been hit hard by the pandemic. But despite a long period of no scholarships or tuition fees, Antioch’s oldest non-profit tutoring center plans to reopen on Monday.

Founded in 1976, the tutoring center has been supported over the years by grants from local foundations and businesses, donations from service clubs and individuals, the city of Antioch and its nominal tuition fees. But after the shutdown in March 2020, the money dried up and it became clear at the end of the summer that he could no longer afford to pay staff salaries, prompting the manager and d ‘others to resign.

Marth Goralka, a former board member who worked as an assistant to the director, was one of those who resigned from her paid job, but remained to help and support the center as treasurer and volunteer.

“We realized that we couldn’t operate with paid employees for a while,” she said. “We were hoping we could get out of it, but we really didn’t have the money.

Lack of money was only part of the problem, Goralka said. She spent much of her free time regularly checking mail and inspecting the building at 275 W. Tregallas Ave., hoping to keep it from going bad.

With no one physically at the center on a regular basis, however, problems ensued. One of the biggest happened in late August when a water fountain leaked, flooding the center. A quick-witted guardian rushed in and managed to shut off the water, but not before he destroyed the carpet, Goralka said.

“It was a horrible leak,” she said, although luckily the board restored insurance and the mat was replaced.

But that was not all, said Goralka. During the fall, electricity and the Internet mysteriously continued to shut down.

“Things kept going wrong inside the building and I had no idea you had to walk into our warehouse – that’s where the circuit breakers were,” she said.

In the end, someone had blocked the door so that no one could enter. When Goralka and others finally made their way into the reserve, they saw Christmas lights hanging above and realized someone was living inside the room.

“It had buried itself under the building through a trap door… and was borrowing our electricity and sleeping inside,” she said, believing that the intruder had been there for at least several weeks.

After closing all potential entrances and adding locks and extra security, someone smashed down all the rear windows in the center. The volunteers therefore took them on board to keep them in a safe place until the center could reopen, she said.

Early this summer just before the COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, the nonprofit board began preparing to reopen as soon as it could hire a director and get the center ready. Volunteers and board members mobilized to tear down boarded up windows, rewire electricity and clean rooms in preparation for opening in late July, just before most schools in East Contra Costa reopened. .

“Everyone here really cares about children and education,” Goralka said. “Everyone here finds education to be the key to success. “

The former director had ordered all the personal protective equipment the center would need, including plexiglass screens, masks and disinfectant, she said.

“So when we open we will always be very, very careful because we will have the small children who have not had the chance to be vaccinated,” Goralka said.

A new director, Kimberley Ahumada, arrived last week and is currently working to finalize the preparation of the center for students. A recent $ 450 grant from the Antioch Community Foundation also funded a new tutor software management program so students can register online, pay for one-on-one tutoring sessions and more.

“He has it all together, so it’s going to save a lot of time and a lot of money, a lot of paperwork,” she said.

Students will also be able to use it for online tutoring, which some had already started doing privately with some of the centre’s tutors.

“I hope there will never be a pandemic like this again, but if need be there is virtual learning now… this pandemic has changed a lot of things and made a lot of things electronic, so it there will be easy access, ”Ahumada said. “If students still want to do virtual (online) tutoring, they will have the option to do so now. But we will also have a lot of face to face tutoring.

The center already has a pool of accredited teachers who will receive a minimum tutor fee, but more is always needed, as do other volunteers, she said.

In the meantime, a number of parents are eager to bring their students back to one-on-one tutoring, Goralka siad.

Among them is Michelle Foy, whose 15-year-old son Brandon has been at the center since first year and plans to return for help in algebra this fall.

The teenager from Antioch had previously gone to another tutoring center, but his mother said he did not receive private lessons from accredited teachers tailored to his specific needs, even though the price – $ 40 the session – were similar.

“Tutors (Delta Learning Center) are teachers who know exactly what the education standards are,” she added.

To sign up for tutoring or volunteering, go to www.deltalearningcenter.org or call 925-757-1310.

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