Unsung Hero #280

Jane Ferreira is not a Westporter.

She does not serve — directly, anyway — Westport residents.

But when she steps down next month as president and CEO of Mercy Learning Center, Ferreira’s impact on our town will have been profound.

Jane Ferreira, at Mercy Learning Center.

In her 21 years of service to MLC, she transformed the lives of tens of thousands of people. The Bridgeport non-profit offers literacy and life skills training for women with low incomes

Coming from 40 different countries, they study English, math, science, health, civics, computers, and employment and life skills.

They are supported by an early childhood education program; social services including case management, mental health counseling, health and financial screenings; job and counseling advice, and enrichment opportunities.

Mercy Learning Center clients earn high school equivalency diplomas; learn job skills, and get help finding work; receive assistance applying for college, job training programs and scholarships, and prepare for US citizenship exams.

The Bridgeport building buzzes with activity. The women who study, learn and are supported there are hard-working, committed, and driven to succeed.

In a county filled with organizations doing great work, MLC stands at the top of any list.

But Ferreira’s impact extends far beyond the countless people she has helped.

Jane Ferreira

Mercy Learning Center’s success is due in part to a large corps of volunteers. Men and women teach classes, offer expertise, act as role models, provide friendships, and donate generously too.

Ferreira’s work has affected them too. They have gotten a close look, and gained important insights, about a world just a few minutes away from Westport. Their horizons have been broadened, and their own lives enriched, through the center that Ferreira has dedicated more than 2 decades of her life to.

In an email announcing her retirement, she wrote:

It has been an honor and privilege to serve the women and children of Mercy Learning Center. I treasure the relationships that I have made with so many beautiful, gifted, and unique women and their families.

It has been a tremendous experience working with so many generous donors and dedicated volunteers over the years.  Your dedication and support have been incredible and most appreciated. You have made MLC a remarkable place.

I leave with great confidence knowing that Mercy Learning Center is structurally sound, programmatically and financially, to move forward with a new leader.  Please know that I will carry the mission of Mercy Learning Center forever in my heart, to “Educate a woman… Educate a family!”  I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of this critical mission and to have worked with you.

Thank you, Jane Ferreira, for your service to Mercy Learning Center. You have made Bridgeport — and Westport — better places, by far.

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Send nominations to 06880blog@gmail.com.)

7 responses to “Unsung Hero #280

  1. Fabulous organization that hopefully will continue in a major way. I volunteered, worked and donated to Mercy for years and was rewarded many times over with relationships and gained knowledge of cultures. The women there are truly ambitious, and dedicated. Much of its success is due to Jane

  2. Lynda Shannon Bluestein

    Great story about Jane. She has inspired an army of volunteers, many from Westport, whose lives have been enriched through tutoring, reading math and life skills, plus the all important GED prep. The Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport has an appreciated a long and fruitful association with Mercy Learning Center inspired by Jane. She is the real deal. Advocacy meets Efficacy.

  3. So glad you are recognizing Jane. She is has been a mentor and the true spirit of Mercy Learning. It has been a privilege to have known and worked with her.

  4. Jane is a wonderful person and an incredible leader and managed Mercy Learning so well. She will be missed by so many. I was sad to hear of her decision to leave.

  5. Sharon Sanford

    I’ve known Jane for over 15 years as a MLC tutor, employee and donor. One of her greatest gifts to Mercy Learning Center was her ability to stay true to the mission to educate and to see clearly how to adapt to the changing needs of the students she served. Through the years, under Jane’s leadership, new and expanded services were introduced at MLC, resulting in its continued success and relevance.
    Wishing Jane the very best!

  6. I’ve known Jane Ferreira since 1994. Jane has a tremendous heart for service and she’s been an exemplary model for igniting that spark in many of us. I am grateful to call her a friend and grateful for her work with the underserved. I wish her a well deserved rest, but I’m sure she’ll find more ways to serve in retirement!

  7. I’m so glad I saw this and immensely grateful you featured Jane. I had the privilege of running a few trainings for her at Mercy, and her kindness was a palpable force.

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