Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County: The gift that keeps on giving
“Everyone who can’t read depends on others to help them in their day-to-day lives,” she said. “Spouses, children, even lawyers often fill in the blanks for these folks. But sometimes, that support system goes away and these hard working, intelligent adults are adrift. That’s where you come in.” Stopping in at the center, I picked up some pamphlets, promising to return and headed home to learn more.
I read that the LVSC is a not-for-profit organization “dedicated to raising the literacy rate in our community through free, one-to-one adult training” and that “giving freely of their time, volunteer tutors meet with their students for an average of one to two hours per week.” Wondering if I was up to such a commitment, I continued to explore what was required of the volunteers and found that the center offered a program consisting of 18 hours of free tutor training, along with curriculum materials, workbooks and a staff offering assistance and support throughout the process.
Although financed with grants from the State of New York Department of Education, in conjunction with corporate, foundation and personal contributions, the LVSC is feeling the pinch of funding cuts and continues to reach out to the community for support. To augment the lack of available dollars, the LVSC maintains the bookstore, which carries a vast array of “gently used” books of every genre, priced from seventy-five cents for a paperback and less than $2 for hardcover, and proceeds from the bookstore are responsible for 70% of the agency’s income
Last winter, I took the plunge and cleared room on my schedule. I found the time to complete the tutor training program and was matched up with a student instantly. With help from the center, I understand that “parental responsibilities, work obligations and preconceived notions regarding the learning process all add to the anxiety of the new learner” and I have been asked to give of my time for one year, which is a “basic requirement of the tutors for the security of the student and success of the match.”
The entire experience has been enriching, and I look forward to sharing my love of reading with others, long after my present student moves on. The LVSC motto: “We help adults help themselves through literacy,” is clear. Being a part of the process is something I hope to share with others along the way.
All intake work for students is done in the privacy of the LVSC offices and is strictly confidential. The next volunteer training will start on October 13 (see page 10). For information regarding becoming a student or a tutor, call 845/794-0017.