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      Pharr Literacy Project offering free classes for volunteer work

      No one has been untouched by the economy.

      But if you're looking to better your life and get on the right track to a career on a low budget, the Pharr Literacy Project can help.

      In exchange of a few hours of volunteer work, you could get free classes.

      Marisela Mata is practicing her pronunciation.

      "I try to learn more English, and I try to write more in English," said Mata.

      Marisela is from Nuevo Leon.

      English is her second language, but she has big dreams.

      "I want to be a nurse," she said.

      But first, she needs to perfect her English and get her GED which is what brought her to the Pharr Literacy Project, a place anyone can get classes for free.

      "I had never been in a class because I never had the money, so I found this place, and I came to the classes," said Elia Esparza.

      The center teaches anything from English as a second language, GED, music, drama and even dance.

      "We serve probably about 850 students a year at this center," said founder Elva Michal.

      She's helped people get closer to achieving their dreams one step at a time.

      Dr. Michal helped start this project in the 90's.

      "We knew that a lot of adults in Pharr didn't have their GED and didn't speak English, and it was difficult for them to get jobs, and we believe that was a lot of the reason for the poverty that exists here," said Michal.

      She said during this economy, there's even more people signing up for classes.

      Michal said the Pharr Literacy Project has taken a hit within the past two years because of the economy, but thanks to the city and volunteers, they can continue to provide free classes to the community.

      The project is funded by grants.

      Michal said money has been tight, but the majority of the people working at this center are volunteers.

      The city leases this building to them for only $1 dollar a year making their mission more affordable.

      Each student is asked to volunteer 10 hours each quarter for each class they take.

      Call the center for more information: (956) 783-7746.