2018-06-21 / Around Town

A Salute to the ‘Keepers of the Dream’

By Lynne Tungett


Zulekha and Stephen Ludwig Zulekha and Stephen Ludwig For the 28th year, the annual “Keeper of the Dream” awards were presented on June 19 at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which has served the Newport community for 96 years.

“We are here tonight to recognize those with special connections that embody our namesake, and [Dr. King’s] words ‘What are you doing for others?’” said Marilyn Warren, MLK Center executive director.

The program began with Newport String Project violin performances by 10-year-old Ryleigh McMillan, 9-year-old Max Kendysch and 8-year-old Iana Kendysch. The Newport String Project has partnered with the MLK Center for the last five years. This year, there were nearly 40 students enrolled for free lessons in violin, viola and for the first time, cello. In addition, a weekly pre-instrumental class for preschoolers was piloted.

The “Keeper of the Dream” awards were presented to the Bazarsky Family Foundation, the Middletown Rotary Club and to Stephen and Zulekha Ludwig.


Pat Burke front, Ted Wrobel, Sara Meirowitz, Ella Murphy and Deanna Conheeny. Pat Burke front, Ted Wrobel, Sara Meirowitz, Ella Murphy and Deanna Conheeny. The Bazarsky Family Foundation was hailed as the 2018 “Keepers of the Dream” for its renovation of the outdated after school and summer camp program spaces. “The spaces now reflect the quality of the programs, and the kids thrive because of you,” Warren said.

The Middletown Rotary Club was chosen as the “Keeper of the Dream Community Partner” for its support of the MLK’s Hunger Services programs by hosting a barbecue dinner for the past five years that is now one of MLK’s major fundraisers.

Stephen and Zulekha Ludwig were honored as “Volunteers of the Year.” “Every year it is a bone of contention; how do we choose the ‘Volunteer of the Year,’ so many do so much for the center. But this year the decision stood out by miles,” Warren said. “If there’s a challenge they know how to tackle it.”


Jason Bazarsky, Hadley Steel, David Bazarsky, Marilyn Warren, and Carol Bazarsky. Jason Bazarsky, Hadley Steel, David Bazarsky, Marilyn Warren, and Carol Bazarsky. Warren said that the Ludwigs “initiated a quantum leap forward” for the MLK Center by creating a new website that is easy to use and tells the MLK story. Zulekha Ludwig also created and edited videos of interviews and testimonials that are on the site, in addition to co-chairing “Swing into Spring,” the center’s signature fundraising event for three years.

Citations and a glass lighthouse were given to the award winners. They were designed and created by Anchor Bend Glassworks to “symbolize the light [the award winners] shine in our community,” Warren said.

MLK’s food pantry is the largest in the county, with 283,412 pounds of food distributed last year to people battling food insecurity. Grants and donations have exceeded $2 million, with less than 3 percent of the budget coming from federal, state or local funding.

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