Letter from the Director(s), Spring 2016

Greetings 
to all our friends and supporters of BEACON.

2015 has been a very exciting and productive year for BEACON.

In 2015 we received over $140,000 in foundation grants. Over 90% of these funds were allocated to direct services—educating students and supporting our volunteers.

In Program Year 2014-2015, we set out to improve systems and services at every level of the organization: adult education, volunteer management, leadership development, fundraising, marketing/communications and staffing.

BEACON classes operate both days and evenings at five sites in Manassas/Manassas Park; our newest site commenced in September through a partnership with The Life Church in Manassas. We engaged over 100 literacy volunteers that provided support to 326 students.

Our board has increased from four to thirteen members with representation from the education, government, business, academia, social services and the faithbased sectors, and will continue to expand in 2016. If anyone is interested in serving on BEACON’s board of directors, please contact me at (571) 428-2575 or mracca@osbva.org.

We worked diligently to increase our fundraising capability and enhance communications’ tools and capacity by hosting our second annual Scrabble® Scramble event in March 2015 and subsequently developing a BEACON video, launching a new website (www.beaconliteracy.org) and creating a publication that is more attractive and contemporary than past versions (of the BEACON newsletter).

BEACON has a new director! Jennifer Mora Zuniga was appointed Executive Director in September. She is responsible for management of all direct service components of the program (student/volunteer and instructional services, site management and data/financial administration). I will continue to oversee and support the program, particularly in the areas of board/leadership and partnership development, grant management and fund development.

We are very fortunate to have Jennifer join BEACON; she brings a wealth of experience in adult literacy and working with immigrant populations.

And on that note, I would like to introduce you to Jennifer…

Thanks,
 Marianne,
 for the 
kind words
 and for 
introducing
 me to the 
BEACON community.

jmoraHello everyone,

Last August, I was delighted to learn I had been selected as the new Executive Director of BEACON and here I am about six months into my new position.

We are in the midst of the second semester as this newsletter goes to press. To date, over 245 students have received ESL services from over 73 dedicated BEACON literacy volunteers. We anticipate serving over 300 students by June 30. In just a few short months I have witnessed the vast majority of our students enhance their language and reading skills and over 80% of them have attained both educational and personal goals.

My professional experience has been concentrated in the field of adult education, primarily working with low-income populations and immigrants. I started my career as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Costa Rica. During my service, I taught English to adults and computer classes to both children and adults.

I enjoy working with immigrants and when it comes to language-learning in a foreign country, I can relate to how challenging the process is and how you feel like an outsider within your community. When I arrived in Costa Rica I was very disillusioned by how much Spanish I actually knew (it turns out I knew almost nothing) and how long and difficult the process is. It took almost a year before I felt somewhat confident in my communication skills and after five years of practice and mastering the language, I have become fluent in reading, writing and speaking the language.

After Peace Corps, I worked for Hogar Immigrant Services of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, initially as the Database Manager and later was promoted to Supervisor of Education Services. At Hogar, I had the pleasure of working with immigrants from all over the world. My responsibilities paralleled those I now have at BEACON; they included supervising staff, overseeing the management of seven class sites, recruiting and training volunteers, conducting outreach for students, facilitating registrations and monitoring program outcomes.

I am truly honored to be part of this program that equips immigrants with the skills and confidence they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.

I invite anyone reading this newsletter that has a potential interest in working with our program to please contact me. We have numerous volunteer opportunities available. We need people with interests and skills in teaching workforce development, citizenship preparation, pre-GED and basic ESL instruction.

I may be reached at (703) 368-7491 or jmorazuniga@osbva.org.

I look forward to working with the BEACON community of friends and supporters.

Best regards,

jen-sig