Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Literacy Volunteers Change the Lives of Adults, Represent “Delco’s Heartbeat”

Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) is seeking volunteers to become literacy tutors to local adults. Free tutor training will be offered this fall in the areas of reading, math, and English as a Second Language (ESL), and currently there are nearly 50 adults waiting for tutors.

Volunteer tutors generously share their time and talents with another adult, meeting twice a week at the Literacy Council or at local libraries throughout Delaware County.

The rewarding experience of helping an adult improve his or her reading, writing, speaking, or math skills was the theme conveyed by the speakers at a recent DCLC appreciation event.

(Peg DeGrassa)
At the Literacy Council’s Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon this spring, guest speaker Peg DeGrassa, managing editor of the Town Talk newspaper, called volunteers “Delco’s heartbeat.”

She praised the literacy volunteers at the event for their hard work, saying, “You selflessly give others a gift that can literally be life-changing and keep on giving long after the tutoring and your work as a volunteer are done. It seems volunteers really are the heartbeat of Delco—what sets it apart.”

The work of literacy volunteers also was highlighted by the two student speakers at the event.

(Ziba Salehi)
ESL student Ziba Salehi of Broomall explained how difficult life can be for adults who don’t know English. “At first when I came to the United States it was hard, and I did not have confidence in myself. Because of language problems, I could not communicate with others on my own.”

She then described DCLC’s free services and expressed gratitude for the efforts of her volunteer ESL tutor, Pattie Evans of Wallingford. “We meet two days a week, for about two hours each night, at a local library. At first, we studied basic vocabulary using a picture dictionary. Now we spend most of our time focusing on conversation and everyday language. Pattie is a good teacher because she is kind, warm and especially patient. With Pattie’s help, I was able to pass my citizenship test with a perfect score and I became a U.S. citizen last year.”

(Kimberly Robinson and tutors): Adult student Kimberly Robinson of Lansdowne (center) posed with her volunteer tutors and her instructors to thank them for helping her study for the GED, despite her battles with the lasting side effects of a brain hemorrhage she suffered at the age of eighteen. With Kimberly (center) are, from left, tutor Barbara Logan of Aston, tutor Ann Gilligan of Swarthmore, instructor Russell Bankes of Havertown, and tutor Reisa Mukamal of Swarthmore

Kimberly Robinson, an Adult Basic Education student from Lansdowne, also shared a heartfelt story with the volunteers at the event. She told the group, “When I was 18 years old I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage on my brain that left me unable to read, write or even walk well. As a result of the hemorrhage, there were some lasting side effects that sometimes slowed me down and made me feel less encouraged.”

She explained that she came to the Literacy Council eight years later to pursue her General Equivalency Diploma (GED). After a great deal of struggle and effort, Kimberly earned her GED and now attends Delaware County Community College. She applauded the volunteers for their help. “I will never be exactly the same as I was before the hemorrhage, but I feel like I have part of my life back. It is because of the generosity of volunteers like you that I can say this.”

Established in 1975, DCLC offers literacy instruction free of charge to adults with low literacy levels and to immigrant adults seeking to learn English. Over 15,000 adults have been served by DCLC since its founding. For these adults, basic literacy is the first step toward exercising more control over their own lives.

DCLC utilizes volunteers to provide free one-on-one and small-group instruction. Free tutor training for new volunteers is held throughout the year. Training for volunteer math tutors will be held September 15 and 22; and training for volunteer reading tutors and volunteer ESL tutors will be held October 2, 4, 9, and 11. Pre-registration is required. To learn more, visit www.delcoliteracy.org or contact Susan at 610-876-4811.

Contact Susan Keller, 610-876-4811, skeller@delcoliteracy.org.