ESL In-Home’s Florence Phillips featured by CNN

Florence Phillips with ESL student Maria Ponce, who became a U.S. citizen on August 4.

Florence Phillips with ESL student Maria Ponce, who became a U.S. citizen on August 4.

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Carson City resident Florence Phillips is this week’s CNN Hero.

The cable news network is featuring the 87 year-old founder and director of ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada in its Peabody Award-winning series on “everyday people changing the world.”

The video was shown during a fundraiser for the non-profit Tuesday evening in the Nevada Room at the Governor’s Mansion.

Mayor Bob Crowell spoke at the event about the importance of the program for ESL — English as a second language — to Carson City.

“It is critical to building social cohesion for a community we share pride in based on mutual respect,” said Crowell. “As mayor, ESL programs fit right into what successful and sustainable communities are all about.”

Earlier this month, CNN came to Northern Nevada to film Phillips and students in her language program, and the piece is now online at

“CNN did a wonderful job exposing my program and focusing on the immigrants who study and achieve citizenship,” said Phillips.

In the CNN interview, Phillips talks about growing up in New York, the child of Jewish immigrants who fled Europe before the Holocaust.

“I did all the translations for them,” Phillips told CNN. “I saw how they struggled being new to a country and not knowing the language.”

She joined the Peace Corps in her 50s and worked on community projects and taught English in Kenya, Guatemala and Jamaica. She returned to the United States when she was 69 years old, volunteered with AmeriCorps, and established the ESL program in 2004.

In addition to free language tutoring services, the ESL In-Home Program provides workplace communication, computer literacy, GED preparation, and citizenship study regardless of sex, age, race, religion or national or ethnic origin, or physical disabilities.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will fund the program’s operations.

Donations can be sent to


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