ELL Family Fund created by Linda Barton – GC member – helps people to face hard times

The pandemic has impacted everybody’s life. While society had to fight against the risk of a deadly disease and all the impacts of lockdowns and the changes it took, some people also had to struggle with unemployment, hunger, and the chance of losing the place they used to live. The motivation and hard work of a woman in State College have changed this situation and given a lot of people a new opportunity. Linda Barton is her name. 

Linda Barton is a Global Connections member. She is a retired ESL School teacher. In March 2020, she started volunteer work to help to feed some families who have lost their income. In the beginning, she and her husband started buying food and donating it for people in need pointed out by other ESL teachers. This amazing work has grown. She started fundraising, and just a little later they were paying the rent of 20 international families (around 80 people) in State College area. 

Linda’s history as a volunteer started back in the 70s, when she began helping Vietnamese students who came to the USA after the war. Some time ago, one of these students, now a successful professional woman, donated money to start up a fundraising campaign. “It is such a good feeling to know that you touched somebody’s life.”

In her work, Linda now has the collaboration of major partners, such as Wegmans and Trader Joe’s. Also, Centre Helps alternates assisting the families’ rent, and Saint Andrews Church is contributing food donations. The ELL Family Fund created by Linda is now able to focus on helping with emergencies, like medical needs, rain gear, winter clothes, and school suplies for new students, as well as transportation assistance. “We never know what is going to come up in an emergency,” she explains.    

Global Connections

“I’ve been connected with Global Connections for a long time in that way,” tells Linda, remembering how she started to get involved with the organization more than 30 years ago. “I would definitely encourage everybody to become a member. It is not very costly. It is very inexpensive and people do want to help.”

In Linda’s opinion, “helping other people volunteer is something essential to American culture.” She says she was always fascinated with other cultures, and she thinks it possibly comes from the fact she is also bicultural (her mother was from Mexico and her dad’s family from Europe). “The motivation has to be because you enjoy working with other people like this. It does not really come from what makes me good. It does, but I feel the volunteering work across the board. It doesn’t matter if you’re working with senior citizens, with animals, whatever it could be. If it strikes a chord with you that you should put energy into.” 

About State College, she remarks that it is a great community. “If you find your passion and you can put some time into it, I am pretty convinced that the way we become a real community in terms of embracing all different cultures is one to one. The families we work with at ELL Family Fund have a comfort level and understand American culture. It has to have a benefit. When the kids and the adults get older, if they have a positive memory of something I think that will trickle down to their children, their families, it has a much larger effect than just one person being touched by somebody also.” 

How you can help

If you want to help, please consider donating to the ELL Family Fund through PayPal. There is no fee if you have a PayPal account that has funds in it. Select “Send & Request.” Next “Send Money” to [email protected]. If you use a credit card there may be a 3.5% fee, but otherwise if sending to a personal account you do not pay any fee. Alternatively, if you already use Venmo, their app is also an option: @Linda-Barton. There is no fee for using Venmo. If you use neither PayPal nor Venmo, you can always send a donation to Linda’s Barton home: 182 Legion Lane, State College PA 16801 or you can drop it off in “my virus-free mudroom, which is always open.”

Book Groups going strong

The Global Connections book groups have continued to thrive during the pandemic. In one group, led by Deb Leo and Sharon Hyde, meet via Zoom every two to three weeks with their readers. When they choose longer books, the time between discussions is longer. In addition to the five women in the core group, there are two Brazilians who regularly participate remotely. They are optimistic that, when they are again able to meet in person the number of participants will increase.

A second group has been meeting weekly under Becky Misangyi and consists of 5-8 regular readers, occasionally joined by alumni now back in Europe. New members are always welcome.

Informations: https://www.gc-cc.org/book-groups

The English program extends its outreach

Yingxue Liu spent several years in State College while her husband got his PhD at Penn State. A trained English teacher, Yingxue volunteered her services at the Mid-State Literacy Council. She was also a long-time member of GC’s English class. Now she is back in China, where she has been hired by Dalian University to teach academic writing.

GC President Bob Persiko and resident English instructor is advising her as she develops her course curriculum and materials. Thanks to Zoom, other alumnae of GC’s English program who have moved back to their home countries have been able to stay connected to the weekly classes. These highlight how our organization’s outreach extends beyond central Pennsylvania.


Global Connections Make and Create at The Makery

The Global Connections (GC) Executive Committee is delighted to invite all to attend a crafting event at The Makery!

Where: The Makery, 123 S Fraser St, State College, PA 16801

When: Saturday, January 8th.  2-4 PM EST.

Who: All are welcome to attend.  The price to create two pieces of art is $15 per person.   Attendees who are not members of Global Connections will be asked to join for a cost of $10 for the year.


  • Join a guided creation event with instructor Bec Shepski – make incredibly cool wooden earrings or keychains.
  • Socialize and reconnect with other members
  • Learn about Global Connections’ current activities and plans and how you can participate actively in our mission.

Please, click here and register as soon as possible as this event is limited to 20 attendees.  Payment may be made online or at the event, however, registration is required.  Please contact Kieran Holland at (717) 364-5655 if you experience any issues registering.

Please note masks must be worn inside The Makery during this event.



Global Connections help promote the cultural opportunity to international students

Global Connections connected a school group from Altoona with the Hubert Humphrey Fellows program, resulting in a stimulating day at Penn State University. The coordinating teacher, Diane Hayes, has participated many times in cultural luncheons in the past, always bringing a group of students from her World Cultures class at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, in Altoona.

On December 8, Diane and 26 students explored the Matson Museum of Anthropology. They also met with current Humphrey Fellows for presentations, group discussions, and a wonderful lunch at the Indian Restaurant Kaarma. They ended the day with a visit to the Palmer Museum.

“My students had a wonderful time learning about Angola, Algeria, South Africa, Egypt, and the Philippines… as well as exploring the two museums. So, thank you for thinking of us and making the recommendation”, said Diane.

This is a good example of how GC can be a facilitator for community involvement in international understanding.

Bob Persiko reelected Global Connections’ president

Robert (Bob) Persiko was unanimously re-elected president of Global Connections at the general membership meeting held on November 30th. Bob has been a member of GC since late 2017, has volunteered in and managed numerous activities of the organization, served as vice president in 2020, and was elected to his first term as president in November 2020. 

During the meeting, Bob told the members that he hopes GC can restart in-person meetings and activities in 2022. He also encouraged individual members to become active and consider initiating new projects that support GC’s mission. Since the beginning of the pandemic, English lessons, book clubs, and discussion groups have moved to an online format. While GC principally serves the American and international residents of central Pennsylvania, Zoom has made it possible for people in other countries, like Spain, South Korea, and Brazil, to participate regularly in activities. In 2021, some in-person social gatherings did actually happen, always with safety precautions in place. A good example is the general membership picnic in September. According to Bob, for 2022 the plan is to revive cultural luncheons and other activities that would engage members in person.  

In the elections, Sabrina Lima was chosen to represent Global Connections as public relations officer. Maryam Barzegar is the new secretary. Melanie Foster was re-elected as a former president, and Kieran Holland will continue as vice president. Bruce Truitt remains the treasurer. The service of all of these volunteers is greatly appreciated.