A celebration of gratitude highlighted the recent Thanksgiving dinner of Literacy Volunteers on the Green in New Milford.

Noting the perseverance and achievements of its students and the volunteer work of its tutors, the annual dinner commemorated the traditional American holiday of giving thanks for this great country and its many opportunities.

More than 150 students and tutors attended the Nov. 19 dinner held at St. John's Parish Hall in New Milford.

The menu consisted of turkey, stuffing, vegetables and assorted pies.

Nine students, who have passed the United States naturalization test to become American citizens this past year, were recognized.

They are Erik Manolo Gonzalez and Amparo Pino-Sedito of Washington, Maria Elena Kamt, Galicia Sedeno, Eloisa Tello-Barlow and Myat Tun of New Milford, Apple Kennedy of Kent, Christian Matute of Brookfield and Moriam Sultana of Danbury.

The recipient of the LVG Founders’ Award, given in honor of Rita Guariglia and Anne Maitland, who established LVG in 2005, was Arley Gray of New Milford.

He has spent his entire career in the field of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), having taught and trained teachers and worked in project management and editorial services for ESL publishers here and abroad.

Gray was instrumental in the development of Literacy Volunteers on the Green and trained all of their volunteer tutors from their founding until 2014.

Eunice Crowley, who grew up in Brazil and became an American citizen two years ago, gave the address to her fellow students at the dinner.

“When I was 7, I wanted to learn English,” the New Milford resident recalled. "I had this dream since I was so young: to learn another language, which was challenging because in my original language we learn to read by putting syllables together, and in English by sound.”

Crowley became a bilingual teacher in her country and worked there for 15 years.

But each time she visited the United States on vacation, “I felt I was home,” she said.

She met her husband, James, in this country and they now have two daughters.

“Living in this amazing country, I realized that my English should be improved,” she said. “Speaking and understanding English better would help me in many ways.

“It was when one of my friends told me about this organization, Literacy Volunteers on the Green, that I started my classes,” she related.

“Years later, I realized my first dream.”

That dream was to publish a children's book, “Crystal, the Snowflake,” in English.

“Now I'm working on one of the biggest goals of my life — to become a well-known screenwriter, and to make my book into an animation movie,” said Crowley, a member of the Litchfield Hills Film Festival Screenwriters and Actors Workshop.

“Today I am in the most advanced class in LVG and have one of the best tutors around, Norman Adler, who we are deeply thankful for,” she said.

“I'm following my dreams and the vision I have — that someday I'll thank Literacy Volunteers on the Green from the stage of the Oscars,” she added.

With the help of LVG, Crowley has succeeded in several other goals. She got her American citizenship, and passed two state tests to get her license as a driving instructor, teaching students in three languages.

Literacy Volunteers on the Green provides basic literacy instruction in reading and writing to native English speakers who want to improve their skills, English as a second language classes, family literacy workshops, and citizenship classes throughout Northern Fairfield and Litchfield counties.