Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Literacy – Spanning the US :: Durham NC :: Elgin IL :: Watertown MA

A passionate crusade to ensure literacy denied no one
Herald Sun: 4.28.2017 by Bob Ashley

I had a fortunate childhood. My home had many books, my parents were devoted readers, and there was opportunity and encouragement from my earliest memories to read voraciously.

Heck, my parents were among maybe half a dozen customers in the small town in northwestern North Carolina where I grew up who subscribed to the Sunday New York Times, which arrived by bus on Tuesday or Wednesday at Lamm’s Drug Store for us to pick up. I’ve read the Times since at least junior high.

As one of the speakers at the Durham Literacy Center’s “Leaders in Literacy” breakfast on Thursday put it, for me literacy came easy. That was even truer for our son, who wasn’t just surrounded with books; he was nearly buried in them. As I’ve said before, my wife, Pat, and I are such book hoarders that we both have a copy of our high school advanced placement history textbook. It’s the same book.

But life is not fair. Many young children grow up in impoverished homes, homes rife with domestic tension, or homes where simply making ends meet in a minimum wage job – or two, or three – leave little time for reading, much less nurturing it. And parents in that circumstance who themselves had little exposure to books or the joy of reading, as much as they care – as virtually all parents do, I believe – about the welfare of their children, may not see reading and literacy as the keystones to life success that they are.

All of that – and more – is why the work of the Durham Literacy Center has been so important since visionary volunteers founded it in the 1980s. This past week, in one of the perks of my job, I had the privilege to attend the center’s annual cheerleading/proselytizing/fundraising breakfast. As always, it was uplifting even while reminding us of the enormous challenge we as a community face.

The truth is, way too many of our neighbors have not had the benefit of immersion in literacy, and the doors of opportunity and enrichment it opens, effortlessly and without a second thought to those of us who have grown up enveloped in it.  READ MORE @

20th Trivia Bee raises money for adult literacy programs
Chicago Tribune: 5.01.2017 by Melanie Kalmar

A volunteer gave Carlos Trujillo a gift that cannot be returned or exchanged. He taught Trujillo how to read.

The volunteer from Bartlett worked with The Literacy Connection in Elgin, a not-for-profit organization that teaches basic literacy skills to adults who never learned how to read and those who speak English as a second language. Tutoring is one-on-one or in small groups. Learners pay an initial $10 fee, which is waived for people on public assistance, to give it "value," according to Karen Oswald, executive director of The Literacy Connection. After that, the program is free.

Trujillo, now a member of The Literacy Connection's board of directors, was paying it forward Saturday morning by selling raffle tickets at the nonprofit's 20th Annual Trivia Bee Fundraiser. Held at the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, 21 teams of four competed by answering trivia questions that volunteers Jeanne Rowe, Mary Sullivan and Chris Huege worked all year devising. More than 60 additional people showed up to observe and purchase raffle tickets for prizes such as tickets to a Cubs game and Broadway's "Hamilton," all donated.

Trujillo's literacy goals when he emigrated from Mexico to the United States in 1992 included learning English and going to school.

"A friend from Germany told me about the Literacy Connection's one-on-one tutoring," he said. "There was a 6-month waiting list. I called every day. Finally, after 6 months, I got a tutor, Donald Ross. He passed away in 2002. He believed in me. Encouraged me. Got me a GED."

Trujillo now holds an associate's degree from Elgin Community College and works as "home school liaison" at Highland Elementary School in Elgin. "I am the bridge between families who don't speak English and the school," he said.  READ MORE @

Project Literacy celebrates 30 years in Watertown
Watertown: 5.01.2017 by Joanna Duffy

If there is any doubt as to Watertown’s cosmopolitan character, one has only to look at Project Literacy, a program serving hundreds of English language learners from more than 50 countries.

The program celebrated its 30th anniversary on April 30 at the Watertown Free Public Library. Run through the library, the program connects English language learners in Watertown to free classes, discussion groups and volunteer English tutors, helping them to not only improve their English skills but to work toward specific goals, such as passing a citizenship test or learning to write a resume.

Watertown resident John Millea, a veteran tutor with Project Literacy, was in attendance. He has been working with students from Armenia and Russia since the fall, and in the past has worked with students from Turkey, Brazil, China and Haiti. He meets his current student at the library on Wednesday afternoons, and lately they have been working on pronunciation and vocabulary, often by reading out loud.

“It energizes me,” he said. “Even after a long day, I don’t feel tired when I’m headed to meet my student. I find it very rewarding.”  READ MORE @

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