Teri Vance: Daughter returns to honor fallen
September 8, 2018
Seven years after the shocking shooting spree that killed three National Guard members and one civilian, one of the victim's daughters returned to pay her respects.
Erick Studenicka, Sgt. 1st Class for the Nevada Army National Guard, wrote about Lily Hansen's participation in the annual Memorial Run/Walk on Thursday, which also marked her first formal meeting of her grandfather retired Maj. Ken Curtzwiler, who also participated in the event.
The birth daughter of victim Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, Hansen was openly adopted by Mary Ellen and Rupert Hansen but maintained a relationship with her birth mother.
"We would exchange letters and texts, but it wasn't like we would talk every day," Hansen told Studenicka.
Nevada Guardsmen Lt. Col. Heath Kelly, 35, Master Sgt. Christian Riege, 38, and McElhiney, 31, were killed Sept. 6, 2011 by lone gunman Eduardo Sencion at the Carson City IHOP. Florence Donovan-Gunderson, 67, was also killed during the incident. All three of the soldiers worked at the Office of the Adjutant General on Fairview Drive in Carson City.
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"Curtzwiler, 61, was elated his granddaughter was able to finally participate in the event.
"'The event marks a horrible day but good things can come from it,' Curtzwiler said.
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A local woman who created a program designed to help foreign-language speakers learn English is receiving national attention.
Florence Phillips, founder of the ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada, has been nominated for the 2018 CNN Heroes Award. It recognizes outstanding individuals who have demonstrated ingenuity and dedication in their charitable work.
Along with the nomination, the ESL Program has been featured on CNN News.
"This is a powerful and rare opportunity to raise national awareness for our organization which helps non-English speaking community members to speak, read and write English and forges a path towards citizenship and gainful employment," Phillips said.
In an interview with CNN, Phillips of Carson City explained how her program came to be.
Born in New York to Jewish parents who left Europe before the Holocaust, she often served as the interpreter for her family — both in language and cultural affairs.
She served three tours in the Peace Corps, going to Kenya, Guatemala and Jamaica.
She returned to the United States in 1999, and realized there was work to do at home as well.
Since 2004, the Nevada ESL In-Home Program has helped more than 5,000 immigrants and their families. It now has 205 tutors in five Nevada counties.
Last year, Phillips spearheaded a scholarship effort to help her students offset the costs of applying for citizenship.
"These are legal immigrants. They're documented," she explained. "They have to have their five-year residential card to apply. Some of them have been here 20 years."
The political climate, she said, is making her students even more eager to become citizens.
"They're desperate to become citizens because of what's happening," she said. "It's a big challenge."
To donate, go to eslinhome.org/donation. For more information or to volunteer as a tutor, email Florence Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (775) 888-2021.