From reading street signs, to applying for a job, to doing the math on a possible new purchase, we use literacy skills every day – skills that include reading, numeracy and technology.
But what if you don’t have those skills?
A recent study indicated 700,000 people in BC experienced significant challenges with literacy.
“When you start to think about the challenges the learners experience, it can be really overwhelming,” says Kathy Ball, Chilliwack Learning Society’s Volunteer Tutor Program Co-ordinator, recalling one student with a very personal motivation. “She wanted to be able to read to her child at night, and set that positive example. I’m so in awe of learners who walk in to our offices and say, ‘I can’t read.’ It takes such bravery.”
The free, volunteer tutoring service is one of several areas of focus for the not-for-profit society, which targets literacy in the widest sense of the word – reading, writing, math and technology. They also offer in-demand English as a Second Language programming, literacy outreach initiatives, technology programs for seniors and a brand new financial literacy program.
In fact, through the course of a year, the Learning Society’s volunteer tutors provide more than 200 hours of one-on-one tutoring – and that’s in addition to group classes.
The learners are at the heart of the process, no matter their goals. For many, past learning experiences have not been positive. Once they see success, the world opens up to them.
“It’s just really rewarding when you can work with a learner and they get it – you know their life is going to change in such a significant way!” Ball says.
Financial Literacy in focus
Thanks to a grant from VanCity, Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) and the Raise a Reader program, the Learning Society is also launching a financial literacy program, targeting issues like setting a budget and identifying fraud.
The scope of their offerings points to the interconnectedness of many issues. “You can’t fill out a form if you can’t read the rental agreement,” Ball reflects.
If you’d like to make a difference in someone’s life, the Chilliwack Learning Society wants to hear from you!
Volunteers are asked for a six-month commitment, but typically only an hour or so of tutoring each week in a library or coffee shop, for example, plus about a half-hour of preparation. Volunteers also undergo a criminal record check and training.
Training begins later this fall – email Kathy at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Enjoy a Burger & Beer for Literacy!
Tickets are just $25, including dinner, silent auction, door prizes and more, and organizers are keen to top last year’s inaugural total of $2,000!
Learn more about the Chilliwack Learning Society at chilliwacklearning.com or call 604-392-2404.