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Thulia McKee Mead: 2016 Betsy Hawkes Memorial Award Recipient

This Award recognizes an individual or individuals who best represent the Volunteer English Program's core values, goals and overall mission. The award honors the memory and service of Betsy Hawkes, long time Board Member, Board President, Tutor and Philanthropist.

"We will never forget Thulia's unique blend of practicality, outspokenness, and unconditional love and support," shared her family and friends at a memorial service held at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Wayne, PA.

Mrs. Mead's volunteer service as a Volunteer English Program board member, board president, tutor, and friend was tireless for close to 30 years. Her outstanding commitment to the ideals of teaching English to the newly arrived as well as long-time immigrant residents of Chester County is unparalleled.

Thulia served as one of the earliest board members, alongside founder June Hamilton. In the early days, resources were scarce but the dedication was unwavering.

Meeting in the Calvary Lutheran Church for a dozen years, Thulia and her colleagues began to weave the tapestry of services that reach every community within Chester County: community volunteer tutors, free tutoring, free books, professional staff, full English immersion, and 7 day/365 days a year learning. Under her guidance, VEP established a working governance board and a vision of providing one-to-one, individual and goal-focused English language and cultural education that remains unique to the county and Southeastern Pennsylvania region to this day.

Thulia officially served from 1994 through 1999, chairing the Board during the last three years of this tenure. Her impact continued well beyond her formal years of service through her generous philanthropy and promotion of VEP services. The Volunteer English Program in Chester County and all those affiliated with the program will be forever impacted because of Thulia's passion.

Mrs. Mead was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and grew up in India and the United Kingdom. She and her husband settled in the United States in 1952, living in Connecticut and most recently Paoli, to raise their family. Thulia passed away on November 24, 2015. She will be remembered for the following attributes, shared by the award's namesake, Mrs. Betsy Hawkes: inspirational, hard-working, visionary, and, self-sacrificing toward the good of others.

Community Partner Award Recipient

 

Pictured left to right: Executive Director Terri Potrako, Pastor Daniel Krewson, President, VEP Board of Directors, Ruth Passo

The award which was established just two years ago recognizes an organization or partner that has demonstrated outstanding support and commitment to the VEP mission.

To mark VEP's 30th Anniversary the 2016 Community Partner Award will be presented to Pastor Daniel Krewson and the congregation of the Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester.

In 1986, while investigating the need for a literacy program for the homeless, members of the Calvary Lutheran Church in West Chester discovered a growing need for the teaching of English as a foreign language to adult immigrants in Chester County. Led by Mrs. June Hamilton, a Chester County resident and teacher, a small band of volunteers organized and administered a tutoring program in the basement of the church. This effort quickly became known as the Volunteer English Program (VEP). After 30 years of continuous service as an independent 501.c.3 organization, the Volunteer English Program remains the only non-profit organization in the county that is exclusively dedicated to the mission of providing free, one-to-one English language, cultural immersion and citizenship tutoring for immigrants and refugees who live or work anywhere in Chester County.

We recognize with humble gratitude Calvary Lutheran Church for their vision, community outreach and spiritual influence in all of our lives. The Church provides free space every year for tutor training workshops. On a weekly basis, private office space is made available for tutor and student instruction. At a moment's notice, doors are open to the board of directors and various committees to ensure that the work of VEP may be carried out. We are most grateful for the innumerable volunteer tutors who are inspired to serve students and for those who provide financial stewardship to the program.

The depth of commitment that this congregation has made to serving immigrants and refugees in their quest for English language and American cultural skills is unparalleled. The Volunteer English Program exists because of the vision, compassion, and generosity on the part of the Calvary Lutheran Church.