Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Ontario CA :: Ulster Co NY :: Somerset Co NJ

Innisfil library turns page on new literacy program
Barrie Literacy Council celebrating partnership with Innisfil ideaLAB and Library to help students improve literacy and math skills
SimCoe: 2.09.2017 by Janis Ramsay

Kyran Bess admits his literacy and math skills aren’t exactly where he’d like them to be.

The Innisfil man came to Canada in April 2009 after growing up in the Caribbean.

“I dropped out of school early and became the man of the house, providing for my brothers and sister and others,” Bess said. “I didn’t learn an education.”

He also found himself in conflict with the law. After overcoming those troubles, he eventually immigrated with the rest of his family.

In the fall, he approached the Barrie Literacy Council to upgrade his education.

He was partnered with volunteer Line Crickard and, for the first month, they met in Barrie.  READ MORE @

Want to help immigrants? Become a literacy tutor
Hudson Valley 1: 2.10.2017 by Frances Marion Platt

Whether our forebears trekked across the Aleutian land bridge before the last Ice Age, were dragged here in chains from Africa in the 18th century or landed at Ellis Island from Europe a mere century ago, pretty much all of us, ultimately, came to America from somewhere else. And all the bits of culture and talent and energy from all those different parts of the world have added up to a formula that we like to think makes this country pretty special. Not all our differences melt away to unrecognizability in that great melting pot, but our diversity is in many ways our greatest strength. People have been fleeing oppression and privation to get here for a long time now.

While some Americans apparently do approve of the idea of closing down our borders now that they’re safely here, many of us are profoundly troubled by recent developments in regard to national immigration policy. “Since when does this country exclude immigrants based on religion, race, ethnic group or country of origin?” we ask ourselves. “Aren’t we supposed to be a haven for refugees from less enlightened places?”

If you’re still wondering, “What can I do to help immigrants in these harsh times?” Kathe Nack has a practical idea for you. A Gardiner resident, Nack started looking around for some volunteer work to do in 2013, after retiring from her career doing art preparation and restoration for the art gallery at Vassar College. She spotted an ad from the Ulster Literacy Association (ULA) seeking volunteers to take a training course as an adult literacy tutor. After completing the class, she teamed up with another volunteer, Linda Hart, to start presenting a course in English as a Second Language at the Gardiner Library, geared toward the migrant farmworker population of southern Ulster County.

Conversation Groups Grow at North Plainfield Public Library and other County Libraries
TapInto: 2.13.2017 by Marina P Kennedy

Adults who wish to improve their English speaking skills are welcome to the North Plainfield Public Memorial Library on Monday nights for a “Conversation Group” that runs from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  The gathering is an opportunity to practice speaking English in a relaxed, informal setting.

This is a free program for area residents sponsored by Literacy Volunteers of Somerset County (LVSC) in association with the North Plainfield Public Library. The weekly class has many activities to encourage communication.  They include word games, and discussions about travel, food, news, and entertainment as well as some lessons on pronunciation and grammar.

Marina Kennedy has been instructing ESL groups for over 10 years.  She said that leading a conversation group has been both enjoyable and gratifying.  “There are so many nice people in the community who wish to have better speaking skills.  It is a pleasure to get together every week and have a chance to talk.”  She also commented that the group is friendly and welcoming. “Participants can come to every class or whenever they can make it.”

The students attend for many different reasons.  Some of the recent participants have joined so they can speak more where they work, communicate with their children’s teachers, help their children with homework, travel more, or to advance in their careers.  READ MORE @

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Pitt Co NC :: Temple TX :: Kauai HI

Addressing the illiteracy rate in eastern North Carolina
WNCT: 2.02.2017 by Maria Satira

In eastern North Carolina, one in five adults is illiterate.

That is according to numbers from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. North Carolina’s state average is about one in seven.

WNCT’s Maria Satira met with one young man in Pitt County who is part of that statistic and is now on the road to literacy.

“I was kind of far behind,” said Robert Gaskins. “So I just wanted to do something about that.”

The 21-year-old dropped out of school in ninth grade with a reading level of a sixth grader.

“I just felt like I didn’t have that in me to continue what I had to do to graduate. So I just quit,” admitted Gaskins.

Gaskin’s illiteracy is all changing thanks to Literacy Volunteers of Pitt County.

“We help stop that gap,” said Rhonda Billingslea.

Billingslea is the executive director of the organization, which serves the Pitt County community confidentially and at no cost. Robert has been joining Billingslea and her tutors five days a week since November.

“As they unfortunately drop out of high school, we’re there to catch them when they’re ready to come in, 21 or 22-years-old and they want a better job,” said Billingslea. “We’re there to help them on their skills.”

Better jobs lead to a stronger workforce, economic growth and healthier families.  VIDEO 📹

Bear Fest to benefit adult literacy program
Temple Daily Telegraph: 2.05.2017 by Melany Cox

The Temple Literacy Council will host the Literacy Love Bear Fest 3–6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Czech Heritage Museum and Genealogy Center.

The come-and-go event will benefit the Adult Literacy Program in the greater Temple area.

D. Kirkland, board chairwoman for TLC, said the bear theme was inspired by the Teddy Bear Bakery, which is located next door to the museum.
Kirkland said one of the fun activities that will be offered are the Bear Stories. Several volunteer readers will read pieces about bears. Kirkland said these can be anything from fiction, non-fiction, news stories, quotes or anything “bear” related.

The featured reader will be Kirk Lammert, owner of Teddy Bear Bakery. Kirkland said Lammert will read stories throughout the afternoon, interspersed with the volunteer readers.

She said everyone who attends the event will receive the gift of a teddy bear cookie and a drink.

The museum will also have tours to highlight elements that depict the legacy of literacy in Czech heritage.

“So anything in the Czech history or culture that was focused on language or the celebration of literacy will be highlighted,” Kirkland said.

There will also be posters and videos featuring TLC and their impact on the area in one of the museum galleries. Kirkland said the purpose of this is to bring awareness to the council.  READ MORE @

Hawaii Literacy seeking tutors
Island only has 3 volunteers
Garden Island: 2.102.017 by Alden Alayvilla

In December, the Hawaii Literacy program on Kauai had a steady number of tutors who volunteered their time to teach adult students.

The pool of 30 tutors, however, dwindled to the current figure of three.

Dennis Dresser, adult literacy coordinator on Kauai, is desperately seeking tutors willing to put in time to assist with adult illiteracy on the Garden Isle.

“I’m almost 86, (and) I need to get two to three tutors very quickly because I just can’t continue to run around all over town,” he said.

Dresser, who started the program on Kauai over a decade ago, said the goal of the nonprofit is to help anyone who is willing to learn.

“If we can get several people who want to be trained, it’s usually a two-day situation, usually two Saturdays,” he said.

Dresser’s wife, Claudia, trains potential tutors and may be able to shorten the training to a longer, one-day session.

About one in six adults have problems reading and writing in the state, including about 5,600 adults on Kauai, according to Hawaii Literacy.

In the nation, that number ranges between 30 million and 40 million.  READ MORE @

Friday, February 17, 2017

Health Library Initiative :: Libraries can be a health lifeline for people most at risk

Libraries can be a health lifeline for people most at risk

Fox News: 11.11.2016

Public libraries can provide vital support for people at high risk for health problems such as new immigrants and people dealing with homelessness, mental illness and substance use, say U.S. researchers.

Their analysis of Philadelphia libraries and how communities use them concludes that libraries can offer specific programs that directly and indirectly improve health, such as classes to improve skills or literacy. Librarians can also act as support figures, connecting people with resources for basic needs like housing.

"Some people would argue that libraries are old-fashioned, outmoded institutions that are irrelevant in the digital age," said senior study author Carolyn Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, in email to Reuters Health. "Our work shows very clearly that libraries are vital, dynamic organizations that know their patrons well and respond creatively to community needs."

Cannuscio is also head of the Healthy Library Initiative, a partnership between U. Penn and the Free Library of Philadelphia, which has 54 locations around the city.

Relevant programs offered by the libraries included classes on nutrition, youth leadership, obtaining housing, job training, literacy and support for the elderly.

Overall, in 2015, the Free Library locations across Philadelphia received 5.8 million in-person visits. Half a million of these visits were from people participating in specialized programs or classes designed to improve social factors that affect health.

The library staff and the residents agreed that people at greatest risk for health issues were those experiencing homelessness, mental illness and substance use issues, in addition to recent immigrants and children and families suffering from trauma.

Librarians reported spending significant time helping to find treatment centers for people with mental health or substance use issues. Substance use was common in the city communities and librarians even had to help people who were immediately at risk for drug overdose.

The library also functioned as a physical shelter for homeless people. In addition, librarians helped residents complete housing applications and sort through legal challenges with landlords.

Recent immigrants frequently used library resources for a broad range of needs. Librarians helped them navigate social services, download and fill out forms related to getting insurance and healthcare or apply for jobs, communicate with lawyers, landlords, and schools and apply for citizenship.

Libraries also offered safe spaces for traumatized children and families, who were often witnesses of neighborhood violence.

Libraries are trusted places in communities and offer free access that may be more welcoming than other agencies, the Healthy Library Initiative researchers write in the journal Health Affairs.  READ MORE @

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Lehigh Acres FL :: Madison Co NY :: Palm Beach Co FL

Growth spurt: Church to host adult literacy program
Lehigh Acres Citizen: 2.01.2017 by Mel Toadvine

An adult literacy program offered through Lehigh Community Services is being called a success.

Maria Otero, program coordinator, said it has grown so much that more room is needed for classes, where volunteer tutors teach English to the participants.
-"We are partnering with the Christ United Methodist Church," Charlotte Rae Nicely, the executive director of Lehigh Community Services, said.

They began holding classes last month at the church, at 1430 Homestead Road N.  "The church has graciously agreed to help us by letting us use their classrooms for the program," she said.

The program has been available for many years, and its main purpose is to teach English to non-English speaking adults. The program is free, but there is a waiting list for those interested in talking part.  READ MORE @

Madison County coalition shares success stories, ideas for promoting literacy
Oneida Dispatch: 1.31.2017

Leaders in the mission to increase literacy in Madison County gathered on Thursday, Jan. 26 with more than three dozen members of the Literacy Coalition of Madison County coming together to learn about and discuss key literacy initiatives in our region.

The meeting, which was held in the Gorman Foundation Community Center in Oneida, was a positive and energy-filled event.

“Every time this group of committed advocates for literacy comes together I can feel the passion and enthusiasm. I am convinced that we are continuing to make progress in our literacy efforts because this group has a shared goal of attacking literacy needs in Madison county,” Mike Drahos, the coalition executive director said.

The Literacy Coalition of Madison County NY was founded in 2009 and is committed to raising child, family, and adult literacy throughout the county. Over 50 community organizations are part of this combined effort to address literacy needs.  READ MORE @

Loop for Literacy co-chair enjoys sharing joy of reading
Palm Beach Post: 2.1.2017 by Michael Readling

Len Gray has seen both sides of the problem.

He’s seen adults and children who are unable to read and the trouble they have communicating their thoughts and feelings. And he’s seen the gigantic change just a little bit of effort and compassion can bring about.

He knows the look in someone’s eyes when the realization finally sets in. The one where that person knows “I can read.” And he knows the world that opens up for that person from that point forward.

“Our family has always believed that the ability to read enables the ability to think and write and express one’s self effectively,” Gray said. “To see that happen and experience how thrilling it is for someone who can understand things through reading, it just has such an impact on their lives and the well-being of our community.”

Gray and his wife, Barbara, got involved with the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County because her parents were very big supporters. Though they lived in places like Chicago, Cleveland and New York, whenever they visited Palm Beach County, they found themselves at Literacy Coalition events and functions.

When they moved here several years ago, the next step was obvious.

“We fell in love with what the Literacy Coalition was doing,” Gray said. “I went through their training program, where you learn how to read to others and help them become proficient readers.”  READ MORE @

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ask Your Representative to Join the Adult Literacy Caucus :: NCL

Ask Your Representative to Join the Adult Literacy Caucus

The Adult Literacy Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives has been re-certified for the 115th Congress. Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN) will continue as caucus sponsor and Republican co-chair. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY) has agreed to serve as Democratic co-chair, taking the place of Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, who retired last year. Two weeks ago, the offices of Rep. Roe and Rep. Yarmuth distributed a “Dear Colleague” letter, inviting all members of the House to join the Caucus.

The current members of the Caucus are listed here. If your representative is not on the list, we hope you’ll consider asking them to join. (Feel free to reference the Dear Colleague letter when contacting them.)  Be prepared with a concise message that includes your name, your address (to show you’re a constituent), contact information, and what you are calling/writing about (joining the Adult Literacy Caucus).

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Literacy – Spanning North America :: Rocky Mount NC ::Chautauqua Co NY :: Ontario CA

Groups aim to improve adult literacy rate
Rocky MountainTelegram: 1.29.2017 by Amelia Harper

People who travel to a foreign country with a different language often struggle because they are not able to read and comprehend the words around them — however, in the Twin Counties, an estimated 30,000 adults cannot read English at a basic level.

Some of these people struggle because English is not their native tongue. Yet even more are English-speaking residents who lack the basic literacy skills that are necessary to function effectively in today’s society. The Twin Counties Literacy Council estimates that 16 percent of adults in Nash County and 25 percent of adults in Edgecombe County are functionally illiterate.

Thomas Currier, director of the College and Career Readiness program at Nash Community College, said adult literacy issues are a community concern because they affect the ability to find employment.

“We define adult literacy as the ability to read, write and speak in English, and compute and solve problems at level of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential,” Currier said. “Historically, adult literacy has been viewed in terms of the amount of educational preparation needed for entry-level employment.”

Jerry Harper, director of the College and Career Readiness program at Edgecombe Community College, said adult illiteracy can have an impact on families and the community as well.  READ MORE @

Growing number seeking help at Literacy Volunteers translates into success, progress for our community
Observer Today: 1.29.2017 by Nicole Gugino

The gift of literacy is one that keeps on giving; beyond the student, it impacts the whole community.

Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County has made transforming individuals and communities through the doorway of literacy its mission. Now, with a grant from the Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation, it can do even more.

Positive ‘passions’

Director Julie LaGrow explained the grant is for translation assistance by higher-level students. The money goes toward gift cards to thank the students.

Ana Julia Carrion is one of the higher-level students helping translate for lower-level learners as part of the grant.

A volunteer tutors a student at Literacy Volunteers of Chautauqua County.

She started in the program a year ago knowing very little English, but back in Puerto Rico she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and taught kindergarten and first grade.

“One of my passions is working with kids” she said.

Carrion added the grant program has allowed her to pursue another of her passions — helping others

“It feels great to help. One of my passions is helping people and I know what I’m doing with Julie is something positive,” she said.

Carrion helps Literacy Volunteers and other nonprofits with translation services, phone calls and presentations to community groups. LaGrow said she also helps with outreach to let people know about the programREAD MORE @

Muskoka filmmaker searching for adults improving their reading skills
North Bay Nipissing: 1.30.2017 by Doris Villemaire

Have you ever thought about how any times a day you read? I don’t mean reading a book. There are many other ways we don’t realize we are using the reading skill.

A few examples are reading the road signs, a newspaper, a map, the phone book, bus timetables, mail, recipes, your computer, report cards and grocery lists.

If we can read well, it is difficult for us to grasp what it feels like to not be able to read. Low literacy has a direct impact on families’ community life and the workplace. The sense of shame often is associated with an inability to read and it means life is incredibly challenging. There are many adults who feel trapped by lack of reading skills, who feel unable to take advantage of options to address their skills deficit. Low adult literacy disadvantages individuals, which often leads to social exclusion and financial hardship.

My father, Clarence Brazier, was illiterate most of his life.

Many adults, who cannot confidently read, find they are ill-equipped to effectively support their children’s education and development. Reasons may vary as to why adults are lacking in important literacy skills. They might include poverty, dysfunctional families, parents with little schooling or parents who speak another language at home and learning disabilities when not diagnosed early enough. No matter what the reason, there is help out there for you who have slipped through the cracks. Adult literacy groups are confidential and free.

I am speaking from experience about adults who go through life and cannot read. My father, Clarence Brazier, was illiterate most of his life. He had to leave school to help on the family farm after his father became blind. Clarence was embarrassed and humiliated and had to quit many jobs when it was discovered he could not read. Fortunately, when he married my mother, life became a little easier, as she did all the reading for him. However, when she passed away, my father was lost — he lived alone and could not read. Clarence Brazier, was illiterate most of his life. Talk about ambition.

To make a long story short, we contacted the Muskoka Literacy Group, I became his tutor and he did learn to read at the age of 93. He was thrilled, happy and no longer embarrassed to talk about his past secret of illiteracy. He went on to enjoy 13 years of reading from age 93 to 105. READ MORE @