In each of the last four or five years, current and previous board members of the VMLC (Vickery Meadow Learning Center) have gotten together to catch up and trade ideas about the nonprofit’s work teaching English literacy skills to non-English-speaking adults and young children in diverse, low-income neighborhoods. And, this year was no exception.
On Friday, February 12, about 50 of them—including VMLC advisory board members like Ruben Esquivel— gathered for breakfast in The Library Bar at the Warwick Melrose Hotel. On the menu, besides the excellent bacon and eggs: an announcement that longtime volunteer Marnie Wildenthal and her husband, Dr. Kern Wildenthal, have established a $100,000 endowment fund for the VMLC.
To manage the new fund—to be called The Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Fund—the couple has selected the Dallas Foundation. It also was announced that, to further honor Marnie, the group’s Literacy Legacy Award will be presented biannually and will be renamed the Marnie Wildenthal Literacy Legacy Award.
Marnie, who’s been a VMLC teacher and volunteer since 2002, a board member, a president of the organization, and a 2014 recipient of the Literacy Legacy Award, was introduced to the group by Kern. He noted that, “next to our kids and grandkids,” VLMC is Marnie’s “passion.”
After thanking Kern (“When it comes to business and money matters, he’s the consultant”), Marnie said the VLMC plays a vital role in the community. “Fourteen years ago, [the clientele was] mostly Hispanic,” she said. “Now, the population reflects the terrible things that are going on in the world.” VLMC offers its clients “not just literacy instruction,” she went on, “but an opportunity to think about something other than what they’ve been through.” It’s important that the nonprofit’s board members and volunteers “be advocates for the immigrant community,” Marnie concluded.
Kern had been introduced by current VMLC board president Camille Owens, whose remarks followed a report to the group by Sarah Papert, VMLC’s executive director. Sarah noted that the group is now serving 1,200 adults and 330 children with 300 weekly volunteers. It operates at sites in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood, in West Dallas, and in East Dallas.