For our next Big Tell Filmmaker Profile, we introduce Karen Dusek and Rebecca Adams. These local filmmakers are sharing the story of how literacy empowers those participating in the Mariposa County Library’s adult literacy program.

As the coordinator for the Mariposa County Library’s adult literacy program, Karen Dusek listened to the very personal stories behind the reasons participants chose to engage in the program. When the Central Valley Community Foundation announced The Big Tell, presented by Bank of America, Karen recognized this as an opportunity to share these stories with a wider audience. To accomplish this, she recruited the talents of her coworker Rebecca Adams. Together, they’ve created a film to demonstrate to audiences that it’s never too late to learn.

The Mariposa County Library’s adult literacy program offers tutoring in reading for adults of Mariposa County. Participants set their own schedule, as well as the pace which they are comfortable with, and work one-on-one with volunteer tutors. The program also provides assistance with computers, as well as obtaining a GED and citizenship. The best part of this valuable service: it’s offered at absolutely no cost. “When I heard about this opportunity to make a film, I thought, ‘What a great opportunity to spread the word about our adult literacy program and introduce some of the extraordinary people who participate in it’,” began Karen. “[My colleague and filmmaking partner] Rebecca, of course, jumped at the chance to use her talents[.]”

Rebecca was a Junior at Mariposa County High School when she took the multimedia class that ignited her passion for filmmaking. “I love to make films and share the amazing experience of life with others,” Rebecca said. “When something takes my breath away, makes my heart race, and makes me feel like I am flying, I become immediately inspired to create something. These are the feelings and experiences that inspire a lot of what I do in life, from my schoolwork to my art.”

Rebecca combines her passion for filmmaking with Karen’s talent for writing in their film, Literacy Empowers. The film follows two volunteer tutors and learners of the Mariposa County Library’s adult literacy program as they share the stories and experiences that brought them together. Rebecca and Karen hope these stories will inspire audiences the same way they were inspired. “My main hope is that people who have been left behind in their education, for whatever reason, will see that they are not alone; that there are people who care who want to help them, and that they do not need to feel embarrassed to ask for help,” Karen said. “Taking [steps] toward increasing their knowledge will transform their lives.” For many, the film will also be an introduction to the library’s adult literacy program. “I hope that when our audience watches our film they will have a new understanding about literacy and the struggles people go through,” Rebecca added. “I hope that this film will give people an insight to our community, our library, and what we are trying to do here for everyone who simply wants to improve themselves and their communities.”

According to Karen, being chosen as a winner for The Big Tell, presented by Bank of America will positively affect the Mariposa County Library and the community for years to come. “Winning this grant has opened doors extending far beyond this single film,” Karen remarked. With the grant, the filmmaking pair purchased new film equipment and sought the talents of a local musician to write and record the film’s background music. With the remainder of the grant, Karen and Rebecca plan to purchase more equipment for use in weekly media workshops for teens, to be held at the library. As the media class at the local high school was canceled this year, this will provide young creators in the area with a new opportunity to stretch their creative muscles.

The Central Valley Community Foundation, in partnership with CMAC, wishes to congratulate Karen Dusek and Rebecca Adams for being chosen as a winner for The Big Tell, presented by Bank of America. Make sure to mark your calendars for The Big Tell Showcase on October 20, 2017 and come out and support these local creators!

To connect with Karen Dusek and Rebecca Adams at the Mariposa County Library, please visit mariposalibrary.org or the Mariposa County Library on Facebook.