While in Chester last summer, I reached out to Leslie Isley, head of the Adult Learning Center in Port Charlotte. Our conversation started off in a funny manner. I explained that I was interested in finding out more about adult literacy programs in Charlotte County and she immediately asked me what my goals were. I realized that she thought I was a potential student calling for information! I quickly backed up and explained my move to Punta Gorda, what I had been doing in NJ and that I was interested in finding out if there was a fit for me here. We agreed to get together when I arrived in October.
There's lots to tell about the differences between LV-UC and the Adult Learning Center, but of course there are lots of commonalities as well--the first being that there are never enough volunteers! After spending some time talking, Leslie and I decided that I would write a quarterly newsletter for the Center and a student success story to be published in the Charlotte Sun, a local newspaper. She explained that the local United Way had asked each of its grantees, including the Center, to put something together to showcase the work they are doing. Leslie and I met with the student whose story they wanted to feature and I started putting the article together. A few days later Leslie told me that a success story was featured in the paper that day if I wanted to look at a sample. I did, and learned that the article would appear under the byline of the head of the local United Way. Hmm. I was still happy to work on the article but I have to admit that it became a little less exciting once I realized that my name would not be in lights. (I know--there's definitely something wrong with that, but I think it is human nature.) Anyway, the article appeared in yesterday's paper and, though it's a bit long, I thought I'd share it here (without the bit of United Way wrap around it). I really am proud of all the adults who work hard to overcome language or learning barriers to make better lives for themselves and am thankful for all of the advantages that I've been given. One of the nice things about "retirement" is being able to give back, and I'm looking forward to having the opportunity to work on behalf of adult learners in Charlotte County in 2011.
Another United Way Success Story
Earlier this year at the Adult Learning Center, you might have come across Ginette Frederic, a volunteer ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) tutor, working with a student to improve her English skills. The willingness of any volunteer tutor to help people learn to read, write and speak better English is always commendable and noteworthy. In this case, however, the story is particularly notable because Ginette herself was an ESOL student at the Center.