Bradenton's Project Light carries on legacy of Sister Nora Brick

vmannix@bradenton.comDecember 5, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Grace Siebel and Robert Galler weren't teachers by profession.

Her career was with Xerox, a receptionist at their Manhattan offices. His was in health care.

Yet there they were Tuesday at Project Light of Manatee, two retirees being honored for helping the all-volunteer nonprofit's devoted corps of 30 volunteers teach English.

"I am giving something back," Siebel said. "I am doing something."

"I am doing something important," Galler said.

Indeed, said Sally Radice, the volunteer executive director.

They are carrying on the legacy of Sister Nora Brick, now retired in New Jersey, who founded Project Light in 1995 to give free adult English language and literacy instruction.

An average of 350 people benefit annually.

"It's something we want to give to people who suffer because they don't speak English," Radice said. "Some of our people, mothers with children in school have to learn English so they can help them with their homework. They want to learn. They want to become part of the community."

Which is why Siebel and Galler were drawn to Project Light and identified with its mission.

Siebel switched from public to parochial school as a child and appreciated the impact it made.

"Everything from the alphabet to writing to speaking, it really helped," she said. "So I felt as though I could make a difference, even for a short time. I'm growing as a person. I'm learning along with the students about people."

Ditto for Galler.

"When you meet with these people you develop a personal relationship," he said. "I really appreciate having these people who are so committed to doing something. It's fun for me to stay up with them. A great learning experience."

Besides the two, Bobbie Aust was also honored for her teaching.

Radice and Diane Draper, the nonprofit's assistant executive director, were also recognized.

Cramer Verde received the first Sister Nora Brick Award for redesigning Project Light's website.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix

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