Maria Hessie (c) of NIAID holds one of the awards won by the VPEP program for its efforts to teach English to NIH housekeepers. Fellow teachers, students and supporters gathered recently at FAES House to discuss the program, its successes and its possibilities
Instructors and students of the Volunteer Program for English Proficiency (VPEP) met recently at the FAES House to talk about the program, offer ways it could be modeled by other agencies and to celebrate the accolades bestowed on the group at this year’s NIH Director’s Awards. The program serves mostly the members of NIH’s housekeeping staff, who often speak Spanish or Haitian Creole
as a first language and struggle with English.
As the program approaches its fourth anniversary, VPEP founder Maria Hessie
of NIAID beamed at the assembled group and thanked them for their commitment
to the program. Even with busy schedules, meetings and other routine obstacles, she said, the more than 50 instructors who make up the teaching staff always “make sure that class happens.” Instructors are asked to commit to teaching
one day a week.
Several of the program’s longtime students offered thanks to their teachers and to Hessie in particular.
“Thank you, all of you, for your help and for your vision,” said student Gloria Reyes. “I am always grateful. The one thing I can do for you is pray for you. You are very good people.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the program is encouraged to contact Hessie at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (301) 496-3981.