The Volunteer English Program, a Chester County nonproﬁt that connects volunteers with adult English language learners, recently recognized the endeavors of its volunteers and participants at a fundraising dinner – entitled “Building the Chester County Community” – at The Desmond Hotel in Malvern.
The annual celebratory event supports VEP’s eﬀorts to teach English and cultural enrichment to those living or working in Chester County.
“This event is a chance to thank and honor those involved in building the Chester County community, day in and day out,” said Terri Potrako, VEP’s Executive Director. “Our goal is to celebrate our accomplishments, as well as raise funds to support annual operations, given that volunteers are not paid and the students are not charged.”
The Community Partner Award was given to the Phoenixville Community Health Foundation.
“Due almost exclusively to their financial support, we initiated an outreach program within the greater Phoenixville region in 2014 to respond to its growing population of immigrants,” said Potrako. “We called this outreach VEP Without Walls.
“We look forward to continuing to work with PCHF to provide direct services to students and tutors in this region by eliminating barriers posed by lack of transportation and available language services.”
The Betsy Hawkes Award was presented to Shirley Warren, VEP’s President Emeritus.
“Shirley has dedicated her time and talents to VEP both as a tutor and in serving on VEP’s Board of Directors for eight years, including two terms as President,” said Potrako. “She spearheaded the drive to diversify VEP’s revenue stream by taking the organization from a state-education funding (model) to a diversified, community-based funding model. This also included partnering with other businesses and corporations to greatly expand our fundraising efforts. VEP could not have done it without her.”
Also, Alex Ihnatsiuk, a current VEP student and native of Belarus, shared his and his family’s immigration story and journey to learn English.
Perhaps the guests’ favorite moment of the night was the moving performance by the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change. Based in Philadelphia, the Chorus uses traditional songs to call attention to issues impacting the local Liberian community and ways in which local Liberians can have a positive impact on their own future.
Click here to learn more about the Volunteer English Program.