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A Friend Indeed: Literacy council transforms lives, strengthens communities

Literacy council transforms lives, strengthens communities by Carin Schoppmeyer | January 24, 2021 at 1:00 a.m.
Jim Mitchell Literacy Council of Benton County (LCBC) Community Engagement Officer Day job: Independent nonprofit management services contractor

Tell us about your organization: LCBC is a 48-year-old nonprofit providing free adult literacy training to address issues of approximately 20% of Benton County residents who cannot read above a third-grade level.

• Mission: Literacy Council of Benton County transforms the lives of our adult students by giving them the reading tools to succeed in life, strengthening our communities.

• Services provided: ESL (English as a Second Language) to non-native speakers and ABL (Adult Basic Literacy) to native speakers with literacy issues.

• Who is eligible? Anyone who is 18 years and older

• How can services be accessed? Review our website at www.goliteracy.org for additional information and then call us at (479) 283-3486 to schedule an application appointment. To volunteer to tutor, we ask you to complete the online application, and then we will follow up with a telephone discussion to get you set up.

• What are your organization's most pressing needs? As with every nonprofit in these pandemic times, financial support! We closed for two months and are being exceptionally frugal but can always use donations of any amount. And volunteer tutors are always needed. We get calls regularly from people needing our help, and our prospective tutor list is only at about a third of our current prospective student list.

• Are there volunteer opportunities in your organization? What are they? We have 80 to 90 prospective students awaiting assignment to tutors and need 60 more prospective tutors to meet the need. Matches are based on time availability and mutual interest, so we work hard to create a good bond between the tutor and student to ensure success. We provide all the training and teaching materials, and our literacy coordinator serves as a resource as the student moves through the various literacy training levels. Generally, we ask for a one-year commitment of three hours per week from both parties, but this varies depending on their individual schedules.

• What other ways may people help? Since we have cut back staffing hours and usage of office space for tutor/student studies, we are not using other volunteers at present. When we are covid-proof -- hopefully soon! -- we will reschedule our two big fundraising events and will need volunteers for those and office support help as well. We are confident we will be able to do our annual September Read Between The Wines four-course dinner event and hopeful we can reschedule our January Scrabble Wars Tournament for spring or summer.

• Why do you work or volunteer for a nonprofit organization? Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it? I have been engaged with books since my grandmother helped teach me to read as a 5-year-old and my church librarian used me as an "assistant" (OK, she was babysitting but I got a title!) and taught me the Dewey Decimal System (Google that). I have been a reader ever since. I have worked in nonprofit arts and humanity for 35 years and am convinced that reading and speaking English is a key component to enjoying life and your community to the fullest extent.

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Literacy Council of Benton County

Mission: Literacy Council of Benton County transforms the lives of adult students by giving them the reading tools to succeed in life, strengthening our communities.

Information: (479) 273-3486 or goliteracy.org

— Carin [email protected]

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