New Co-Presidents to Lead Delaware County Literacy Council Board of Directors

Rick Durante and Jennifer Stock

Press Release of March 4, 2021

Rick Durante of Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) and Jennifer Stock, Director of the Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library, have been elected as Co-Presidents of the Board of Directors of the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC).

Rick Durante is Vice President, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Government Affairs at FMFCU and Executive Director of the FMFCU Foundation. He also serves on the Board of Managers and is Executive Director of the Credit Union Network for Financial Literacy, LLC (CUNFL).
Rick’s work at FMCU Foundation includes overseeing all community giving programs, including education grants, teacher awards, community grants, Delco Hi-Q, the food insecurity fund, and other charitable giving in the communities served by FMFCU. Rick has been involved with Delco Hi-Q, the oldest continuous academic competition in the United States, since 2004. He currently serves as Quizmaster and Executive Director of the competition.

Rick finds serving on the DCLC Board of Directors to be rewarding. He explains, “I started volunteering with DCLC 12 years ago, and the growth and impact of the organization that I’ve witnessed over that time is amazing. The work of DCLC in improving literacy has helped students open doors to educational and employment opportunities that can help them move out of poverty and underemployment.”

Jennifer Stock earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from Drexel University. She has worked in Delaware County Libraries in various roles since 2001. Before becoming the Director of the Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library, Jennifer served as Head of Public Services for the Marple Library, Assistant Director of the Marple Library, and Director of the Helen Kate Furness Free Library.

Jennifer describes first learning about the Literacy Council when she noticed literacy tutors meeting with their adult students in libraries where she was working. Jennifer says she is impressed with how DCLC has adapted to changing needs in the community, explaining, “Now the focus is not only on adult basic literacy, adult GED, adult English as a Second Language (ESL), and adults’ learning something so that they can go on to either higher education or citizenship, but now there is also an important literacy-to-work aspect that DCLC provides.”

She adds, “The Literacy Council has embraced this change, and we’ve seen the success. There are even DCLC students who have been able to become employees and continue the mission in that role. That’s amazing and a testament to the organization.”

Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union has provided financial products and services to its members in the greater Philadelphia region and beyond since 1970. As the largest financial institution headquartered in Delaware County, FMFCU has 110,000 members, 2,500 partner organizations, and branches located throughout the Delaware Valley.

The Upper Darby Township and Sellers Memorial Free Public Library includes three branches, the Sellers Memorial Branch on State Road in Upper Darby, the Primos Branch on Ashland Avenue in Secane, and the Municipal Branch on Bywood Avenue in Upper Darby. These libraries belong to the Delaware County Libraries, a federated system comprised of 26 member libraries.

The Delaware County Literacy Council helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit https://www.delcoliteracy.org.

Literacy Telethon Reaches Goal with Boost from Rosenthal Family Foundation

Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal

Press Release of November 23, 2020

Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal
Monica Horan Rosenthal was born and raised in Delaware County and starred in Everybody Loves Raymond, which was created by her husband Phil Rosenthal. The Rosenthals awarded the Delaware County Literacy Council a generous grant through the Rosenthal Family Foundation in support of this fall’s Literacy Is Essential Telethon.

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon brought together a bevy of stars and community leaders to shine the spotlight on adult literacy and to raise awareness and needed funds for the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC), all while keeping attendees safe. The fundraising goal of the innovative online event was to raise $45,000.00 in honor of the 45 years that DCLC has been providing free literacy services to local adults.

Held online on October 21st, the Telethon succeeded by all measures. Sponsors supported the event; celebrities, entertainers, and civic leaders shared their talent and insight during the event; individuals donated to the event; and attendees thoroughly enjoyed the event. But the ambitious goal of raising $45,000.00 was achieved only because of a generous $15,000.00 matching grant awarded to DCLC by the Rosenthal Family Foundation.

The Rosenthal Family Foundation was created by Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal. Monica hails from Delaware County and shared a personal message during the Telethon. She is best known as Amy MacDougall/Amy Barone from Everybody Loves Raymond. Phil created, wrote, and executive produced the beloved TV show and currently has a food travelogue series on Netflix called Somebody Feed Phil! When Monica heard about the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) and the Literacy Is Essential Telethon, she took it upon herself to learn more. Touched by the stories of adults who persist in their studies, often despite challenging barriers, Monica then wanted to do more in support of DCLC’s students.

In Monica’s Telethon message she explained, “I was born and raised in Delco but I had no idea about the incredible work the Delaware County Literacy Council has been doing for 45 years. And I was so touched to learn that it all started because Chester community members noticed that their neighbors were struggling with reading, writing, math, and they didn’t just notice, they did something about it.”

Thus inspired, Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal took action and awarded DCLC a matching grant from the Rosenthal Family Foundation to help spur donations during the Telethon. As a result, the first $15,000.00 raised during the Telethon was matched and doubled to become $30,000.00, which launched the event two-thirds of the way toward its overall fundraising goal. Donations and sponsorships combined to raise the remaining $15,000.00, helping DCLC raise the 45th anniversary target of $45,000.00!

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon’s generous sponsors include Major Sponsors Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, Harrah’s Philadelphia, and PECO; Supporting Sponsors Brinker Simpson, Sun East Federal Credit Union, and White Horse Village; Gold Sponsors the Ed Snyder Family Foundation, King’s Automotive, and Wayne Jewelers; Silver Sponsors John Cipollone Heating and Cooling and Rose Valley Appraisal; Bronze Sponsors Vinnie Arcana and R&N Enterprises; and individual sponsors David Belanger, Madeline Bialecki, Michael Hartnett, and Carol A. Weiss.

Helmed by emcee Shonette Harrison Carew, the Literacy Is Essential Telethon honored the 2020 Champions of Adult Literacy for furthering the cause of adult literacy in Delaware County. During the Telethon, awards were presented to Student Champion Maria Torres, Community Champion Jonathan Abdur Rahim King, and Hometown Hero Champion the Delaware County Citizen Corps.

The roster of stars appearing in the Telethon was impressive and included celebrities, entertainers, and civic leaders with roots in or connections to Delaware County. From the sports world Dan Connor and Vince Papale each shared an inspirational message. Former Champions of Adult Literacy and local entertainment standouts Jahlil Beats and Dyana Williams also gave messages of support. Sharing their personal connection to literacy and to Delaware County from the world of TV and movies were Monica Horan; Fran Brill, a Sesame Street puppeteer; Byron Johnson, a hairstylist for Tyler Perry Studios; Cheri Oteri, best known for her work on Saturday Night Live; and Tina Fey, who presented Maria Torres with the Student Champion of Adult Literacy award.

Also appearing were television news anchors Lucy Bustamante of NBC10/Telemundo62 and Jessica Kartalija of CBS3, and local leaders Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland, PA Representative Jenn O’Mara, and DCCC President Dr. L. Joy Gates Black.

Entertainment was provided by singer-songwriters Danie Ocean and Matthew Ryan, both from Chester; Lost Northern Tribe, a local band out of Media; and Broadway performer Kathy Deitch, originally from Ridley Park.

A special raffle prize was also generously provided by Phil Rosenthal of the Rosenthal Family Foundation. The “Dinner with Phil” raffle offered attendees the chance to have a free meal delivered from a local restaurant and then to share that meal with Monica Horan Rosenthal and Phil Rosenthal by video chat. Bonnie Hallam of Drexel Hill won the raffle prize.

More than 130 individuals donated to the Telethon, and as many as 500 people viewed the event live. A replay of the Telethon can be seen at https://bit.ly/TelethonReplay.

The Rosenthal Family Foundation works alongside grassroots activists to address issues of inequity. While most of the funding is focused in Los Angeles, the foundation supports a number of organizations working in the Philadelphia area and New York City. Key focus areas include developing a leadership pipeline for community based organizations and ensuring arts education is core curriculum in public schools. The Rosenthal Family Foundation recently launched a new program titled Somebody Feed The People, to support organizations working to alleviate hunger and food insecurity in communities across the United States and the globe.

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.

Delaware County Citizen Corps Is Named 2020 Hometown Hero Champion of Adult Literacy

Delaware County Citizen Corps logo

The Delaware County Citizen Corps will be honored as the 2020 Hometown Hero Champion of Adult Literacy at the Literacy Is Essential Telethon on October 21, 2020.

The Delaware County Citizen Corps exists to “improve the emergency preparedness, health, and safety of the residents of Delaware County.” Volunteers in the Corps train and practice so they are ready to support existing emergency workers in a “major emergency or disaster in or around Delaware County.”

When COVID-19 arrived in Delaware County in March 2020, it was not a drill. This was a true emergency.

The Citizen Corps responded to the challenge. In the months that followed, the Corps registered, vetted, and trained more than 700 new volunteers and worked with local officials to determine the best way to deploy them.

Edwin Kline is the Volunteer Management Coordinator in Delaware County’s Office of Emergency Management who heads the Citizen Corps. He is aided by a team of deputy and assistant coordinators.

Guided by this leadership, the Corps has staffed call centers in Montgomery, Chester, and Delaware County; unloaded, stocked, and packed food for local food banks; set up a Volunteer Reception Center (VRC) for the Glen Mills medical surge center; operated a first responder refuge center; and assisted with COVID-19 testing sites held in a variety of locations, including Chester and Upper Darby. Medical professionals volunteering for the Corps have filled especially valuable roles, such as administering the COVID-19 nasopharyngeal swabbing test itself and collecting information at local nursing homes to determine their COVID-19 readiness and/or needs.

“It’s all about service and assisting the community,” says Kline. He highlights the importance of the Citizens Corps in underserved communities that “may have limited resources and increased needs” during an emergency.

The Corps celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. We congratulate the Delaware County Citizen Corps, its leadership, and its volunteers on their important work, and we are proud to honor the Corps as the 2020 Hometown Hero Champion of Adult Literacy.

Jonathan Abdur Rahim King Named 2020 Community Champion of Adult Literacy

Jonathan Abdur Rahim King

Jonathan Abdur Rahim King will be honored as the 2020 Community Champion of Adult Literacy at the Literacy Is Essential Telethon on October 21, 2020.

Jonathan is an agent of change and a force for good in the City of Chester, the city where he was born and raised.

As a community leader, he has been involved in mentoring young people, community organizing, prison reform, education, citizen re-entry, and reducing gun violence.

That’s quite a resume for someone who was sent to jail for selling drugs as a young man. While there, Jonathan had an “aha” moment when seeing a father and son incarcerated at the same time. He decided prison was not the future he wanted for himself.

Based on his personal experience, Jonathan has worked tirelessly to ease the difficult transition that community members face when returning to society after serving time in prison, also known as citizen re-entry.

He has taken action to guide young people to make good choices in their lives, serving as an Amachi Mentor and providing leadership in Brothers of Concern, a community organization that presents positive role models and alternatives for at-risk youth. He started the Safe Corridors program in Chester to ensure the safety of students as they arrive to and depart from school. In addition, he is a supervisor for Cure Violence Global, a nationwide initiative that promotes creative solutions and personal intervention to reduce gun violence.

Because he believes education is key to creating opportunities, he is the Community Liaison for the Chester Charter School for the Arts and has served on the Board of Directors of the Delaware County Literacy Council since 2012. He also proudly notes that he has an Associate Degree in Social Work and is working on his bachelor’s degree.

But he is perhaps most proud of being appointed as a citizen member of the County Jail Oversight Board of George Hill Corrections Facility, the very jail where he served time more than 30 years ago.

Jonathan believes his lifelong activism shares goals with the Black Lives Matter movement. He sees the injustices that Brown and Black people face on a daily basis, but he remains hopeful that things will eventually improve, stating “It is young people’s energy that is going to be the driving force to bring about change.”

Maria Torres Named 2020 Student Champion of Adult Literacy

Maria Torres, Student Champion of Adult Literacy

Maria Torres will be honored as the 2020 Student Champion of Adult Literacy at the Literacy Is Essential Telethon on October 21, 2020. Maria is originally from the Dominican Republic. She is a licensed dentist in her country and has practiced dentistry in the Dominican Republic and Spain. 

Maria enrolled with the Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) in November 2016 as an English as a Second Language (ESL) student. She wanted to improve her ability to speak and understand English. Also, Maria realized that better English skills would allow her to be successful in her job search. Specifically, when Maria applied to work in a local dentist office, she was told her English was not good enough to do the job. Maria knew she needed to take the brave step of asking for help, so she contacted the Literacy Council with the goal of improving her English skills.

Once enrolled with DCLC, Maria was matched with Volunteer Tutor James Stein. After working with James on her English for two years, Maria applied to a dental office, and this time she landed the job! She is now a full-time dental assistant in the office of Mindy Benjamini, DMD, a dental practice in Narberth PA.

COVID-19 did not impede Maria’s progress or motivation. She continues to meet with her tutor James via video conferences. When her workplace shut down during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, she even expressed gratitude that she had more time to do her ESL homework!

When her workplace reopened, Maria was very involved in implementing COVID-19 protocols to keep the staff and patients at the dental practice safe, including a special patient shield developed by Dr. Benjamini. 

Through all of these changes, Maria did not give up on her dream. Instead, she worked hard to reach her goals. As James says, “Her persistence and patience paid off!” Maria continues to study with James and has recently placed out of ESL and is now a basic literacy student. She continues to improve her skills so she can get the most out of her life here in the U.S. We congratulate Maria on being the 2020 Student Champion of Adult Literacy!

Delco Stars to Shine in Literacy Is Essential Telethon

Telethon Celebrities

Press Release of September 29. 2020

Celebrities appearing in the Literacy Is Essential Telethon
Delco celebrities will be shining bright at the free online Literacy Is Essential Telethon in support of DCLC on October 21, 2020.
Shown top row, left to right: Tina Fey, Danie Ocean, Fran Brill, and Cheri Oteri; second row, left to right: Vince Papale, Monica Horan, Dan Connor, and Jahlil Beats.

What do Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, Jahlil Beats, Monica Horan, Fran Brill, Matthew Ryan, Dan Connor, Danie Ocean, and Vince Papale have in common? They all hail from Delaware County originally, and they all will be contributing their talent and star power to the first-ever Literacy Is Essential Telethon in support of Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC). Clearly these Delco luminaries understand that helping adults improve their literacy skills, learn English, earn GEDs, and get family-sustaining jobs is needed now more than ever.

The Literacy Is Essential Telethon is a free online celebration of adult literacy that will take place Wednesday, October 21, 2020, at 8:00 pm EDT. Anyone interested in attending can view the Telethon by visiting bit.ly/LE-Oct21 on October 21. The same link also provides a video preview and more details about the event.

The Telethon will honor the 2020 Champions of Adult Literacy, all of whom have furthered the cause of adult literacy in Delaware County. Awards will be presented to Student Champion Maria Torres, Community Champion Jonathan Abdur Rahim King, and Hometown Hero Champion the Delaware County Citizen Corps.

To celebrate these deserving Champions and to raise funds in support of DCLC’s free literacy services, Delco celebrities and community leaders will be performing and sharing messages of support. The event also will be a great opportunity to learn about the depth and generosity of talent from Delco.

While most people are already fans of Tina Fey, Cheri Oteri, and Vince Papale, they may not know Fran Brill, a puppeteer who grew up in Wallingford and who is responsible for the groundbreaking Muppets Prairie Dawn and Zoe on Sesame Street. Recording artists Matthew Ryan and Danie Ocean are both from Chester, and both will be performing during the Telethon. Learn about more special guests at bit.ly/LE-Oct21. DCLC invites all who care about adult literacy and who are proud to live in Delaware County to attend!

The Telethon is generously supported by Major Sponsors Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and Harrah’s Philadelphia and Supporting Sponsors Sun East Federal Credit Union and White Horse Village, along with many other generous community members.

The Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit www.delcoliteracy.org.