Beer breaks language barrier; Ninkasi hosts fundraiser for English as a Second Language students

Nancy Wood, Lane English as a Second Language instructional specialist, sings for guests at the Pints For a Cause fundraiser held at Ninkasi Tasting Room on April 26.Photo: Chris Piepgrass


Nancy Wood, Lane English as a Second Language instructional specialist, sings for guests at the Pints For a Cause fundraiser held at Ninkasi Tasting Room on April 26.
Photo: Chris Piepgrass

Lane’s English as a Second Language Advisory Board collaborated with Pints for a Cause at the Ninkasi Tasting Room on April 24.

Ninkasi’s tradition of community service leads them to hold fundraisers like this every Monday and Thursday night.

“Ninkasi has an online application. I applied for it and I think it was within 48 hours that they gave us a few possible dates,” Lane ESL instructor Annick Todd said. “The process was very smooth.”

Lane’s ESL committee is comprised of community members from all over Lane County. Some of these committee members are former students of the ESL program.

At an advisory board meeting a member mentioned doing a fundraiser and Ninkasi’s Pints for a Cause came up.

The ESL program earned $1 for every pint sold at the Tasting Room from noon until 10 p.m.

“In the past we haven’t had a lot of money for scholarships, so we’re trying to change that,” Todd said.

Hundreds of guests danced on Ninkasi’s patio as Nancy Wood, an ESL instructional specialist, laid down vocals over the accompaniment of Paul Safar. Safar hashed out chord progressions on the keyboard and provided the vocal harmonies for the duration of the two-hour set.

The duet also returned for an encore at the end of the night.

In exchange for donations of any size, raffle tickets were awarded to attendees — the prizes for which were donated by community and advisory board members.

“Last week somebody donated a seven-night stay at a five-star hotel in Cabo San Lucas,“ Todd said.

Other prizes included two tickets to the NCAA Track Championship at Hayward Field from June 11 to June 14, a class at Lane, a professional photo shoot, a certificate for a healing session at Exquisite Healing in Eugene and a onemonth LTD bus pass.

When their names were called, none of the drawing winners were “Our students really want to know what it’s like to live here and talk to native speakers.” present to receive their prize.

“I have their contact information. We told them they didn’t need to be present to win,“ Todd said.

ESL is a noncredit class offered to students who need to communicate better with future instructors. After increasing their fluency, students have the option to enroll in credit classes. This fundraiser gave Lane the ability to present scholarships to students who can’t afford the class.

Teofora Wences is a former Lane student and recipient of the scholarship. When she first enrolled at Lane, she spoke little English.

“I believe in the power of the scholarship in this community,” Wences said. “It’s a good program for people that really want to succeed.”

While she networked, program dean Cathy Lindsley helped supervise the event.

“We have served resident ESL program dean, English as a Second Language Cathy Lindsley Lane Community College students since the ‘70s,” Lindsley said. “One class for one term is $47. Some students don’t have the money to pay.”

The ESL Advisory Board also partners with eScript, a nationwide corporation that mediates the donation of a percentage of purchases at select locations. The benefits are awarded to an organization of the donor’s choice.

“Every time you shop anywhere that is a partner, they give a certain percentage to the ESL scholarship fund,” Todd said.

The ESL Advisory board has been working to increase the number of eScript members associated with ESL. Last year, 16 people were registered as contributors. Since then, the number has gone up to 47, bringing the program closer to its goal of 100.

Students are also encouraged to help their classmates by volunteering.

“We have people that are either work-study or learn-and-earn students that come in and help in classes. Our students really want to know what it’s like to live here and talk to native speakers,” Lindsley said. “There are different kinds of English, and that’s what we try to help them learn.”

The ESL program accepts donations through the college website.