Thursday, May 21, 2009

Get Some Warm Fuzzies: Volunteer

Because I announced yesterday's book giveaway on a number of message groups, and the digest post option often takes a day to show up, I'm not going to announce a winner until tomorrow (when it'll be another chapter from the annals of Detective Hussey).

You can leave a comment either here or scroll down to yesterday's post.

The "For Sale" sign is in the yard, so I guess it's official, although I haven't seen the posting on the MLS site.

I know I've spent a lot of blog time on my pet charity, Adult Literacy, and it's still a worthwhile topic. Saturday I'll be training another batch of tutors. Yes, it's a holiday weekend, but the need is there. The Adult Literacy League here in Orlando has a backlog of people waiting to be assigned tutors. The economy is hitting them hard. On a slightly brighter note, we've seen a rise in the number of tutors--many of them have also felt the downsizing crunch and now have more time, and are choosing to use it to help others.

Keep Reading...

My first student was a 50-year-old woman who had completed 9th grade, but had been passed through the system because she was a quiet and cooperative student. Her learning difficulties had pretty much been ignored. I spent 3 delightful years working with her, and we both took great satisfaction in watching her progress.

My next student reflected another literacy issue … people whose native language isn’t English. I enjoyed the ups and downs of explaining the vagaries and complexities of our language to a woman born and raised in Korea. Although she was in the U.S. for almost 20 years, she had only recently made the connection between the fact that without good language skills, her ability to obtain promotions at work had just about ended. I probably learned as much about grammar as she did (at least I learned official terminology for all the rules I took for granted). Her pronunciation was another challenge--being Korean, she had problems with Ls and Rs. "Squirrel" was almost beyond her capability. And since she worked for Walt Disney World, we spent a lot of time practicing that one.

Or idioms -- one story spoke of a character being "in a rut." Because she pronounced the word "rot", not "rut", her interpretation was that the man had a "rotten life."

The rewards of having someone tell you that they read a magazine article that warned of the dangers of eating rare hamburger, or that they finally got the Monday – Friday work schedule they’ve always wanted cannot be measured. I urge everyone who has an hour a week to find a literacy group in your community and give something back. You can check ProLiteracy Worldwide to find a program in your area. Get in touch with someone today.

And if you don't think you have what it takes to work with a student, your local literacy organization needs volunteers for so many other tasks. Can you help with mailings? Will you answer phones? Can you manage a photocopy machine? And, if you feel you still don't have the time or skills, these organizations will never say 'no' to your checks!

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