Mercy Center

Jerry with some of his students.
Holiday Celebration at Mercy Center.
A grammer lesson.
Learning about the history of women's rights.
Fundraiser committee at Mercy Center.

Mercy Center Volunteers: Elizabeth, Gail and Jerry

Elizabeth Power, Gail Marton and Jerry Kuroghlian all volunteers at Mercy Learning Center. They are all very enthusiastic about it.

Jerry Kuroghlian taught in Westport.  He is married to Ellen Kuroghlian, a former music teacher and REF member.  Jerry attends many REF functions and is a faithful volunteer at the Mercy Learning Center ( in Bridgeport.  

Below is an article submitted for CEA Advisor following CEA's request for stories about retired educators'volunteerism. Below that Elizabeth Power talks about her work at Mercy Learning Center. Click here Volunteerism for Gail Marton's account of her MLC experience.

One of the most loved English teachers at Staples High School in Westport, Dr. Gerald Kuroghlian, retired in 2009 after a 42-year teaching career. He was named Westport’s Teacher of the Year in 2004. During his teaching career, Jerry served in a volunteer capacity as Liaison Officer for the Connecticut Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and wrote this regarding his service. “To be a complete person, one must give as well as receive from a professional organization.  I took many ideas from NCTE when I started teaching, and now is the time to give back to the organization and my peers. I love being with the people who make up NCTE and I have made many friends as a result.”

His spirit of volunteerism did not end when he retired from teaching. The gifted instructor immediately began volunteering at Mercy Learning Center — the Bridgeport literacy and life-skills organization that gives hope to hundreds of women.  In the winter of 2014, Kuroghlian noticed that the children of many of the women lacked warm coats.

He looked for a way to help. Two former students at Staples High School, Max Hoberman and Taylor McNair, offered to lend a hand to “Dr. K.” when they heard of the need.

On Friday, Jan. 14, 2011 — before the Staples boys basketball game against Bassick — Max and Taylor (plus a few teammates) collected coats for the needy.

 “This is a great example of seeing a need, and responding to it,” said Staples head coach Dan Woog.  “Dr. Kuroghlian has been a long-time friend of the boys soccer program.  We’re happy to help him out, as he helps so many kids and women in need.”

”Dr. K” has been a volunteer at Mercy Learning Center for 7 years.  Bill Mitchell of MITCHELL'S of WESTPORT is the person who introduced him to MLC.  Gerry had taught all 3 of the Mitchell boys at Staples H.S.  Bill knew that Gerry was a dedicated teacher and was also looking for a place to help others in Bridgeport.  Gerry says that he learns from his students, as they learn from him.  They are always very appreciative and respectful.  They call him TEACHER.  He has had students from Syria, Bangladesh, Haiti, Mexico, Brazil, and countries in Africa.  Some have had little or no schooling in their native lands.  Skill levels vary.  For example some can speak English but want to learn how to read and write.  Others need to improve all skills in English so that they can secure entry level work.  Some work an overnight shift and come directly to Mercy Learning Center for their 2 hour class in English.  He has had the pleasure of attending the ceremonies in Hartford in which some of his students attained US Citizenship.

To sum it all up, Jerry Kuroghlian is a teacher who continues, in retirement, to share his love of learning, his talent for teaching, and his desire to give help where it is needed.

Thanks to Jane Ferreira, President and CEO, Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport, Inc, for contributing to this writeup. MLC is at 637 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604,, Phone: 203-334-6699, Fax: 203-332-6852.  Mercy Learning Center is always looking for volunteers who receive comprehensive training enabling them to teach the highly receptive student population. Its mission is as follows:

The mission of Mercy Learning Center (MLC) is to provide basic literacy and life skills training to low-income women using a holistic approach within a compassionate, supportive environment. All women are welcome without regard for race, religion, color, creed, sexual orientation or national origin.

Teaching At Mercy Center

by Elizabeth Power (ret. 2000 from Mill Hill)

I have been volunteering at the Mercy Learning Center ( for five years. I signed up because I missed teaching, but did not want to substitute nor did I want to work with young children.  I felt, after 35 years of teaching young children, that I wanted a change. Working with adult women is the answer I was looking for.

My first year at the Center was not as successful as I had hoped it would be because my student was not really committed to the program.  She came late, did not show at all and very seldom did her homework.  I did not get discouraged, and I am so glad I gave it another try. 

The following year my student showed what can be done with determination and hard work.  I worked with Olivia for 3 years.  At 25, married with no children and from Mexico, she is now a college student, a lifelong dream for Olivia and so rewarding for me, knowing I had a part in this process. 

Now I am a remedial reading teacher at the Center and working with 3 women from Africa.  What a great way to spend two hours two days a week.  I love it! 

Any one interested in volunteering at the Mercy Center, just contact Diane Holmes at 203-334 6699.  Diane is the Volunteer Coordinator at the Center.  You can arrange a tour in order to see for yourself what the Center has to offer the women of Bridgeport.  There are many people at the Center who are there to help you.  All the women are tested and materials are right at your fingertips.  You many even contact me at I would love to answer any  questions you may have. 

The Mercy Center is located in Bridgeport, on Park Avenue.  There is parking right in back of the building for staff and tutors.  The Center even has child care so women (students) can if they wish participate in the all day (9:00 to 2:00) programs.  There are many opportunities for all and I can assure you, you will get more out of the experience than you ever thought possible. 

Editor's note:  Click on Volunteerism to go to that blog page for more information about the Mercy Center.  A great place to continue using you valuable teaching skills.

june mackenzie 01.03.2013 02:33

Elizabeth, So wonderful reading about your involvement with MLC. Those lucky, lucky ladies to have you raising them up.

Paula S. 24.10.2012 16:21

How wonderful to use your teaching skills for such a worthy purpose!

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