Building Confidence Through Life Changing Skills
The Ana A. Brito Foundation Inc. (AABFI) is the outgrowth of a ministry of the Epworth United Methodist Church (EUMC) - Ayuda Especial - created to widen the scope and support to the community. Founded in 1985 by Ana A. Brito at the Bethesda United Methodist Church, Ayuda Especial was a program for adult students learning English as a second language. The EUMC provides classroom space, materials and volunteers. The support of the EUMC ensures that contributions to the Foundation benefit program participants directly. Ana A. Brito has been a champion for the Hispanic community since she and her family arrived in Montgomery County from Cuba in 1968. Programs that started as small volunteer initiatives have expanded to support the growth of the immigrant communities that now reside in Gaithersburg, Maryland and surrounding areas in Montgomery County. In its current form, the program offerings accelerate the assimilation of new immigrants into the American culture.
The Foundation was established as a charitable, educational outreach community organization in upper Montgomery County, Maryland. The AABFI operates exclusively for tax-exempt purposes (not for profit) as set forth in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. Revenue sources for the AABFI are kindly generated by the government of Montgomery County through the Montgomery Coalition For Adult English Literacy organization (MCAEL). The Foundation also receives generous donations and in kind support from the City of Gaithersburg, EUMC, and private donors.
To Impart life changing skills and build confidence
English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
The Foundation offers English classes to adult immigrants (free of charge) to help families bridge the first and second generation immigrant language gap that quickly develops as children acclimate to Montgomery County. There are three levels, ranging from Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced that meet twice per week. The management and faculty are made up of contract and volunteer staff members. Classes follow the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) schedule and are open to all nationalities free of charge. Number of students enrolled per year range from 80-100.
Adult Computer Classes
The AABFI Computer Program consists of a classroom of multiple computer stations with an hour and half classes meeting immediately following the English classes. These classes are taught in English and Spanish due to the overwhelming number of students who have limited command of the English language.
The computer program offers basic computer skills to familiarize participants with the components of the computer, tools to create documents and use of the internet. Program emphasizes on programs such as MS Office 2013:
Additionally, the program teaches skills to facilitate connection with home countries via social media which helps to ease the transition process for new immigrants and maintain larger family support networks.
In order to prepare school-aged children to live and learn in Montgomery County, the program also offers tutoring sessions. The sessions offer after-school assistance with homework and other educational support that their non-English speaking parents may not be able to provide. While their parents attend ESOL the children can receive the help they need to succeed in their school environment. Instruction supports the learning objectives of the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system.
Child Care / Parenting
Childcare is one of the very important components of this program because it enables mothers, particularly new immigrant mothers, to bring their children and attend class uninterrupted. Women empowerment is extremely important for low income immigrant women often isolated due to childcare responsibilities. Parenting workshops offered help to further develop this component. They help mothers, who are often the primary family leader, integrate into the overall community.
Health and Wellness
A healthy community is an empowered community. In partnership with Adventist HealthCare, Montgomery County Health and Human Services and other health care providers in the area, the AABFI offers health and wellness education sessions, health screenings and other health related activities designed to "bringing health to the community and the community into health." These programs are offered throughout the year.
Civic and Legal Rights and Responsibilities
Immigration workshops and resource materials concerning legal rights and responsibilities are offered to ensure appropriate assimilation in the United States. These programs help newly arrived persons understand how to behave and conform in their new environment while integrating and becoming contributing members of society. Human Relationships Programs are offered to provide basic skills in interpersonal relationships and communications. Participants learn about cultural differences, how to solve potential conflicts and the boundaries of the legal system. These programs are offered throughout the year.
DEREK HARPS - President
Derek Harps has a long and significant history of marrying his professional expertise in the areas of banking and lending with his personal commitment and dedication to the successful management of not-for-profit efforts in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Retired as Vice President and Team Lead for M&T Bank’s Greater Washington Not-for-Profit Banking Group, Mr. Harp’s 41 years of banking experience has served to guide numerous non-profit boards, including his tenures as Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Healthy Babies Project, and President of the Board of Directors for the Center for Non-profit Advancement. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Montgomery College Life Sciences Park Foundation and as Chairperson of the Administrative Council of the Epworth United Methodist Church.
BARBARA PAULEY - Co-Treasurer
Barbara Pauley has been a member of Epworth United Methodist Church for 42 years. She has served the church in various capacities, most recently as a new member of the Ana A. Brito Foundation, Inc. board. A native of West Virginia, Barbara graduated from West Virginia University in 1973 with a degree in Accounting and Finance. She began her professional career with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (then the U.S. General Accounting Office) as an Auditor and later in supervisory positions. Her work history includes that of a tax accountant in a family-owned tax practice, and numerous positions with the Montgomery County Public School System. Additionally, she served as a member of the Board of Directors of a bank in West Virginia until the time of its merger with a larger bank. She is a Certified Public Accountant.
REV. JENNIFER FENNER - Officer
The Reverend Jennifer Fenner – “Pastor Jenn” – is a native of Fremont, Michigan and a long-time resident of Howard County, Maryland. Currently serving as the Senior Pastor of the Epworth United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg, MD. Reverend Fenner has also served in Nicaragua, Central America, she also served as a liaison with the United Nations while working for the Church Center (part of the United Methodist Church) in New York City, and for two years as a Young Adult Missionary in Residence for the General Board of Global Ministries. Her dedication to diversity and inclusiveness was recognized very early in her vocation, when upon graduating Summa Cum Laud from the Drew University Theological School, Reverend Fenner was honored with the Hebrew Bible Award. Fully bilingual English/Spanish, she is committed to promoting justice and equality for all races and ethnicities.
ELIZABETH BRITO AUSTIN - Secretary
Elizabeth (Lisa) Brito-Austin has strong ties to the Montgomery County community and a very personal investment in the mission and services of the Ana A. Brito Foundation. Lisa was born in Camaguey, Cuba and together with her parents and sisters, immigrated to the US in 1968 on the last of what was then referred to as the “Freedom Flights.” Her family was sponsored by a local United Methodist church and relocated to Montgomery County, allowing them to acclimate, integrate and finally flourish as productive and successful members of the local community. Together with her considerable experience in the areas of legal practices, local government and project management, Lisa brings her unique perspective – and personal narrative – to the important work of the foundation.
YOLANDA PUPO-ORTIZ, Pastor Emeritus - Officer
Rev. Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz is an experienced and highly respected member of the Montgomery County faith community and well-known for her achievements in the area of diversity, inclusiveness and multi-cultural empowerment. She is a United Methodist Retired Elder and Pastor Emerita of the Epworth United Methodist Church. She has more than thirty years experience in developing strong inter-ethnic relationships in the local community and has represented the Hispanic community’s interests on the Montgomery County Inter-Ethnic ComRev. Rev. Yolanda is currently Director of the foundation programs leading the Foundation on a day to day basis.