Our Staff has over 45 years of combined service at Bethel Neighborhood Center.
Each is dedicated to the mission of offering a renewed sense of hope to our neighbors.
If you would like to get to know each person a little better please read their biographies below.
Mang Sonna became the Executive Director of Bethel Neighborhood Center in May 2009. Bethel gives him the opportunity to use his native language, other languages he knows, all his skills and creativity in the Bethel ministry. He said, “I am blessed to be able to use my whole being to serve God and God’s people. God is using me to be the voice for the voiceless to offer hope and help to those who need them the most.”
Mang oversees the programs and services, makes and executes plans, travels to speak at churches and visit donors, advocates, and interprets for refugees. In addition, Mang serves as one of the pastors of the Bethel Center Baptist Church. The lives that are transformed and the new hope people find because of the Bethel ministry excites him the most.
He believes that God made each human being equal, with a special purpose, and loves everyone the same. He said, “An inner city ministry like Bethel has many opportunities to show God’s love in words and in deeds. I am investing my life in the Bethel ministry because it emits the love of Christ and offers hope to the hopeless and empowers those who are powerless to become what God wants them to be.”
Mang’s top three goals are to bring financial stability, to have a new building, and to continue to make Bethel as a place of love, acceptance and renewal for all ages.
He is confident that by the grace of God and with the support of the churches, the community, and God’s people, Bethel will continue to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in our community.
Rosa Macias, a native of Wyandotte County, has been with Bethel Neighborhood Center since February 2007. She is the Administrative Assistant and Community Support Coordinator, and is most likely the friendly voice that will greet you when you call Bethel. She is responsible for many tasks such as administrative duties, managing the food pantry, coordinating with schools and groups for food donations, co-coordinating the Christmas Shop, working two mornings a week with our senior group, receptionist and office assistant duties, notary public and Spanish translation.
Rosa continues to serve at Bethel knowing she is using her skills to help the community and is happy to see that those in need have a welcoming environment to come get the services they need. Working at Bethel for her means helping to make a difference in the lives of many individuals and families whether it be a bag of groceries or a much needed smile.
Rosa feels the impact of what Bethel offers through the kind comments of those who have been helped by Bethel. As well as when she is out in her normal day life when she hears one of Bethel’s children say “Ms. Rosa, Ms. Rosa” waving to her with a huge smile. “I’m touched that they are so excited to see a Bethel staff member that they call your name out loud in the middle of a store or parking lot”.
She hopes to one day see Bethel grow into a larger facility, expand their food pantry and to be able to offer low-cost daycare for working parents which is much needed by many families in the community.
My name is Jackie Arambula. I have attended Bethel Neighborhood Center since I was in 5th grade. I am now a freshman in college. Bethel has impacted not only my life but my family’s life in so many ways. Ever since I was younger I looked up to the end of my school days so I could attend Bethel. When I was at Bethel I felt like I could be myself. I was able to meet many students with different racial backgrounds from different schools that soon enough became my friends. When I entered high school, I thought it was time I would start giving back to Bethel after all the help they provided for my family.
I started as a volunteer with the elementary school kids. When I was younger I was a very shy kid, and volunteering at Bethel helped me to step out of my comfort zone and I overcame a lot of my insecurities. I was able to meet so many people that helped me become who I am today - a leader, not only at Bethel but at school too. I was a constant volunteer at Bethel for about 3 years, and I enjoyed every moment of it. Every day no matter how good or bad my day was, it always got better once I entered through the Bethel doors. I was always greeted with such kind smiles from both the children and the staff. I always admired the staff for having so much patience and being so understanding.
After my 3 years of volunteering, I was offered the opportunity to become part of the Bethel staff. When I was informed, I was so happy because I loved attending Bethel and I love spending time with the kids. I felt lucky that I could call this my job. I have now been working at Bethel for a little over a year. I love it when people ask me where I work or about what I do. It excites me to talk about what Bethel does not only for the children in our program but our whole community. As a Bethel staff I want the children in the program to feel like they belong here, like they have somewhere to go and someone to count on not just to help them with their homework. I want to keep growing with Bethel as I move forward and face different challenges in life.
August Paw Gaw was born in Burma and is fluent in Karen and English. Before August’s family move to America in December 2007, she was living in Tham Hin Refugee camp for more than 10 years. She graduated with Associate of Science from Kansas City Kansas Community College. She has been working at Bethel since 2016 as a Program Staff. August also works at Stratford Commons of Memory Care Center as a Certified Med Aide and Certified Nursing Assistant.
August’s sisters used to participate in the Bethel after school program and her mother attended the Friday meal and worship and they love it. She has witnessed Bethel making a big difference in the community as well as in her own home. August said “Living around Bethel proximity was a blessing when we first moved to United States because Bethel provide winter clothes when it was needed.” Hence, she wants to give it forward by tutoring kids with math and picking and dropping off kids for the youth program. She will whole heartedly be a helper around Bethel using the best of her ability.
Vernita McMurtrey is a seasoned nonprofit executive and consults in the areas of strategic planning, grant funding and nonprofit management. Vernita has more than 25 years of executive management expertise serving over 13 years as the chief executive of the Missouri Health Insurance Pool. Ms. McMurtrey has provided executive management leadership of a full service family medical clinic, achieving the FQHC “look alike” designation.
Vernita previously served as the President of NAIC (National Association of Insurance Companies), a national organization leading nonprofit “high risk” health and insurance programs. Vernita has extensive experience in grant writing, planning, volunteer engagement, major gift development and stewardship, family philanthropy and strategic planning including matters of governance.
She is passionate about helping nonprofits, family foundations and individual philanthropists improve their practices effectively and joyfully impacting the causes to which they are committed. She is committed to community service and has presented on numerous topics to professional, community, donor and volunteer audiences across the country. Bethel is blessed to have her join the Bethel team.
Program Director and
Elizabeth Gregory-Vile, is a native of Wyandotte county. She graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts and Science in 2015, and graduated from K-State in May 2019 with a bachelor of arts degree in Psychology. She is very active in her church and has worked with many children’s programs. She was recently married to Brenson Vile in August 2019. She enjoys running and playing with her puppy.
She has been working with Bethel Neighborhood Center as program staff since the summer of 2018. She was recently hired as Program Director and Volunteer Coordinator as of September 2019. She has enjoyed her time at Bethel working with the summer program and looks forward to working with them more in the future. She is excited to be part of a team that educates and equips young people, takes care of senior citizens, and provides emergency food assistance to our community.
She looks forwarding to leading the after school program and working with other nonprofits in Wyandotte County. She said, "We all have the ability to meaningfully and positively impact a child’s life," and she hopes that Bethel and its staff can and will do that for many years to come. Bethel is blessed to have her as a team leader!
Assistant Program Director
(Middle & High School Section)
Cing Zo-Malneu aka "Zo" was born and raised in Yangon, Burma. Zo and her family left Burma in 2009 and moved to Malaysia. Zo lived in Malaysia for almost three years before coming to the United States in August, 2012. She got married recently to Piang Malneu.
Zo loves children and began volunteering at Bethel in January 2013. She loves Bethel very much and likes to help our community. She enjoys playing with Bethel kids and help them with their homework. Zo says Bethel is her favorite place and her second family. Her interactions with the kids, senior citizens, and Bethel families and friends have helped her to improve her English.
Zo held various responsibilities like program staff, community outreach coordinator (January 2016), and Interim Program Director and Volunteer Coordinator from August 15, 2018 till end of August 2019. She is proud to be part of the Bethel family. She graduated from Park University in Parkville, MO in May, 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting. She stepped down from some of her responsibilities as she enrolled in the MBA program. Zo speaks Tedim (Zomi/Chin), Burmese and English. She enjoys working at Bethel. We are blessed to have her as our Assistant Program Director.
Assistant Program Director
Hello! My name is London Dillard. I was born and raised in Kansas City Kansas. I graduated from Wyandotte High School in 2011 and I enjoyed my high school years playing several sports. I was really into baseball and wrestling, even went to the state championships for wrestling. About a year after my graduation, I tried out for the KC Royals. I didn't make the cut but the experience was amazing!
After I decided to stop playing sports and dedicate my time to raising my daughter who is 7 years old, and is attending the Bethel After School program. I have been on staff at Bethel since March 2018 and I really enjoy working with kids. Having my daughter to be apart of the program makes working at Bethel Center much better.
(We are blessed having London as our Assistant Program Director - admin).
Program Staff and ESL Instructor
Keith Kaduce was born in Mason City, Iowa and his father was the pastor of a small rural church. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography and a minor in Philosophy and Humanities, and from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He worked for more than 10 years both as a volunteer and professionally with international students on several college and seminary campuses.
Prior to coming to Bethel, he was the manager of a box company in Kansas City, Missouri. He is very active in his church and has served in many capacities there including education committee, worship committee, church cabinet, deacon, and custodian, among others.
Keith has served Bethel as a staff member in the children/youth program since April of 2018. His passion is in teaching students about the beauty of diversity in culture, race, language, and environment in the entire world.
He also enjoys leading the Bethel English Second Language program. His interests include travel (especially to Disney World), reading, drawing, writing, music of all kinds, and doing activities with his family.
NICO J GARCIA
Nico was born in Kansas City and is currently living here. He participated in the high school program and volunteered at Bethel since he was thirteen. He serves as a Program Staff since August 2014. The thing that drove him towards Bethel was his mother. His mom used to volunteer at Bethel when she was a teenager. She would always tell Nico to come to Bethel when he was younger. One day he came to Bethel and volunteered and he loved it! Nico loves working with the kids and helping them with their homework.
Nico thinks that Bethel is a little haven for little kids and youth. He feels that Bethel serves as a place where children can concentrate and work and play with their friends. Seeing that Bethel does all of this for the youth, it made him want to come and stay. Nico wants to help enrich the minds of all the youth of my neighborhood so they can all have a better future.
Irasema Lilian Becerra
Irasema is currently a Junior at Sumner Academy of Arts & Science. She is thrilled to study Architecture and Engineering in the future. She takes part in many other extracurricular activities in her community such as 20/20 Leadership, KU Thrive, KU Trio, as well as a KC Scholar. She was one of the recipients of the 2018 Volunteer of the Year Award from United Way of Wyandotte County because of her volunteer work at Bethel Neighborhood Center.
She was born in Missouri, but lived 7 years in Mexico before returning to the U.S.A. She has a 9 year-old sister and a 5 year-old brother. She is happily living with them and both of her parents in Kansas City, Kansas.
Irasema has been a student at Bethel since she was in second grade. She was invited by her cousins. She has received so much help from Bethel throughout the years that encouraged her to come back to the program year after year. From the elementary program to middle school and finally in the high school program. She felt eager to give back to the community by volunteering in 2016 and becoming a staff member in August 2018. She said, "I am so happy to become a staff member at Bethel. Everything I know about jobs and responsibilities, I learned from Bethel.” Bethel is blessed to have her as a program staff!