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Tom’s Big Heart

Tom Weiler is a retired Cornell university professor. He recently became a LVR tutor and Digital literacy volunteer navigator. Previously, Tom served as a board member and tutor for the Literacy Volunteers program in Ithaca, New York. Below, he shares his thoughts about volunteering and giving:

“Experiencing students’ incremental successes, gains in confidence, and engagement in life is what I valued most as a university educator. That same path of accomplishment is true with adult learning, though student and tutor may meet only a couple of hours each week. I have been given the privilege of working with so many wonderful people. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to help a stroke victim realize his math skills were not diminished, just rusty – then pass a tool-and-dye company test and be asked to join the firm; or help a student with health challenges format her life story, “Sarah Never Gives Up” – a title she created; or work for 12 years with a gentleman who did not read or write because of a disability with word memory, as he learned to read phonetically and pursue interest in his family’s history.

Other students want to become digitally literate—learn to keyboard proficiently, navigate websites to search for information, apply for work, learn English-as-a-Second-Language and get news from their native country. Rochester is so fortunate in its new Digital Literacy Program, in which I volunteer, which addresses digital needs at sites throughout the city. I’ve learned to be a better teacher and person from program coordinators, fellow tutors, and the students themselves. The human dimension of tutoring—insights, interpretations, finding practices that work—is surprising and humbling.

Helping, however modestly, to fund adult literacy is another aspect of giving back. Literacy Volunteers is legitimate—certified by the State Department of Education. And, having been a member of a Literacy Voluntees Board of Directors (in Ithaca), I know how limited and fragile annual budgets are – statements of probable hope! Giving annually and at fundraisers helps sustain facility expenses, utilities, lean staffing, training, student intake and testing, education resources, basic supplies, and occasional initiatives.

Those are the reasons I engage with adult literacy—and that turns out to be quite a selfish act. For a few hours a week and some disposable income, I receive back so much more!”

Follow Tom’s example

DONATE     VOLUNTEER

Ruth Colvin, literacy pioneer, 101 years young

To Family & Friends, Happy New Year & Happy Holidays!

I’m now 101, well into the three digit numbers. I do count my blessings.

I continue my normal activities of being a life member of two boards (ProLiteracy and LiteracyCNY), in three book clubs, active in my church on the Mission Committee, gym twice a week, golf three times a week (when weather permits, higher handicap, shorter ball and even played with two of my doctors – I think they were curious to see if a 100-year-old could hit the ball), still teaching and doing research, travelled to the ProLiteracy national conference in Minneapolis and to California in February and March. And of course, lots of reading and now writing another book, looking back over my 100 Years of travel, my love, my life, and literacy, with hundreds of stories, personal and international.

The 100 birthday celebrations went on even at the ProLiteracy national conference, where I’m so proud to meet with so many dedicated students, tutors, and old friends. A most impressive celebration was when READ Santa Clara celebrated my birthday in California with a big cake, and instead of 100 candles they put 100 pencils in the cake, distributing them to students and tutors – what a creative group. And they skyped me, too, as they used my book “Off the Beaten Path” for their tutor/student book club. I’m delighted other affiliates are starting book clubs for tutors/students and using “Off the Beaten Path” as an opening door to learning of other cultures and people.

I’m working to keep a balanced life, as I write in my new book—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. I’ll always repeat “Age is just a number. It’s what you do with your number that counts.” My number gets bigger and bigger, and I’ll continue to do my best to help change lives.

How fortunate I am to have a loving and supportive family, now welcoming my 8th great grandchild. Even though they are “coast to coast,” they insist I email them every morning, and they call me every day. I’m blest to have so many caring friends who not only check up on me but are ready to help me when and if needed. I count my blessings that I have an active mind, that I’m physically fit, and that I can continue to contribute to life.

Happy Holidays, and peace and joy go with each of you, Ruth Colvin

Follow Ruth’s example and DONATE or VOLUNTEER

Rick & Olga

DONATE HERE

When I joined the LVR Board, I also became an LVR tutor. As rewarding as it is to serve on the Board, for me personally, assisting others and giving back is my true calling. For you see, I always wanted to be a teacher.

Throughout my entire life I have been known as the individual that stands up and assists others. Even today, many describe me as a servant leader.

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up on Webster Avenue in the City of Rochester, surrounded by a diverse group of people who had the ability to speak another language other than English, all who learned the English language upon arriving to the United States.

In fact, as a toddler I spoke Spanish even though my parents only spoke English. In my pre-teen years, I even had the opportunity to learn Greek and Sign Language-experiences I may have not had if I grew up anywhere else. It was through these life experiences, I learned the value of having the ability to read, write, and speak the primary language of the country one lives in.

Fast forward years later, I met my wife, Olga. The interesting thing about our story, we came to realize we grew up blocks apart but never recall meeting until we were adults. Her parents moved into the neighborhood when they migrated to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico. At that time, Olga was only seven years old and did not speak a word of English.

Because my wife didn’t speak English she was placed into English as a Second Language classes (ESL). Throughout the years, Olga and her entire family began to learn the English language. Eventually, she became a “mainstream” English student and today holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, which established the foundation for her very successful career in the field of Human Resources.

Success stories like Olga’s are made possible, in part, through agencies like Literacy Volunteers of Rochester. To offer the greatest possible future for our students we need your support. I ask that you please consider donating to LVR and help our students achieve their hopes and dreams. Through your generosity you open the doors of possibilities for others, which in turn benefit all.

Sincerely, Rick Nangreave

Follow Rick’s example and DONATE or VOLUNTEER

 

Eric’s Story

Eric chuckles when he recalls his jail cell. “I had books stacked everywhere on my bed. I spent all my time reading about careers and work, and preparing mentally to get out and get better.”

He eventually left that cell behind, strongly motivated by his hopes and dreams. While living at a halfway house, Eric realized, “I needed to rebuild my life from the ground up.”

Although he was able to get a part-time contract job with the help of a friend, he said it just wasn’t enough. Eric discovered Digital Literacy during a visit to Lincoln Branch Library on Joseph Avenue in Rochester. He spotted the Computer Help Sign and introduced himself to a Digital Literacy volunteer navigator.

The navigator and Empire State College intern, Tricia, worked closely with Eric. By the end of their first session, Eric had a new resume and email account, had applied for several jobs, and explored websites for SUNY schools and civil service jobs.

Over the following months, Tricia and Eric continued working together. Eric learned new computer skills, applied for more jobs, and researched careers. He obtained a Lifeline cell phone, received a driver’s permit and will soon get his license. He also acquired two jobs.

Best of all, Eric now has options. He lives in a home of his choosing, and has decided on a career path. He will be starting Sterile Processing Technician classes at Rochester Educational Opportunity Center in a few months. “I want to be excellent and irreplaceable, so I’m going to study hard and throw everything I have into this career.”

While he trains, Eric will continue working at Community Lutheran Ministries. And, he’s organized a “Board of Directors” for his life. One of the members of his board is Tricia.

“Digital Literacy volunteers are phenomenal, willing to share their talents, and very much appreciated. I plan to continue to use their services, and highly recommend others use them as well.”

Help give others the chance to change their own story. 

VOLUNTEER     DONATE

I Truly Believe

My name is Alejandra Céspedes and I have been a Board member of Literacy Volunteers of Rochester for the last six years. I joined LVR because I have personally experienced the struggles of not being able to speak, read or write English.

I came to this country at the age of 15 from Costa Rica with no English skills. I was immediately enrolled in high school where I struggled to learn the new language. I remember the frustration of not being able to read or write a simple sentence. It was paralyzing to not be able to communicate.

I had the fortune of being able to take many English classes where I eventually learned. Not many people have this opportunity. For example, my mother has lived in this country for the last 26 years and her English is not just extremely broken, but she also depends on my sisters and me to read and write any communication.

I truly believe in LVR’s mission. It warms my heart to hear so many success stories where parents can help their kids do their homework; individuals filling out job applications or feeling confident enough to enroll in school to learn skills to better their lives.

Add your voice to Aley’s.

DONATE

**********

As someone who came from a family of immigrants, I echo the sentiments expressed by Aley. She is a dedicated volunteer who personally knows and understands the challenges our students experience. Aley, along with hundreds of other individuals who support our instructional work in English, reading and math, and our community-based digital and family literacy programs, are the backbone of our organization. Please make a gift today. Your financial support is more important than ever!

 Margaret Sánchez, President, Board of Directors

Family Fun Camp

Family Fun Volunteers

Parents, grandparents and kids attended Family Fun Camp at Greece Community Education. Volunteers worked with families to model educational activities that parents or grandparents can do at home using ordinary household supplies. The camp’s aim is to help parents and grandparents support their children’s learning.

This one-week long camp focused on Science, Math and Geography activities. Campers were led by LVR’s Program Coordinator, Jennifer Eaton. Pictured at left are Jennifer with husband, nieces, nephew, and brother-in-law, who volunteered during the week.

The camp is conducted in partnership with Greece Community Education at its Alcott Road Facility in Greece.

Interested in volunteering? Click here

Can’t volunteer but want to support LVR? Click here