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

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Rick & Olga

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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

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Brain Game Breaks Record

Congratulations to Phillips Lytle LLP, winner of the 2017 Brain Game. The team toughed out serious trivia questions and bested more than 20 other teams to win the coveted Brain trophy.

And, Literacy Volunteers of Rochester (LVR) scored a major success as it surged passed it’s goal and set a new fund raising record. Over $45,000 was raised at the event.

LVR thanks its many sponsors and the over 300 people who attended the October 26 event.

Gold Sponsors

  • Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC
  • Digital Literacy Navigators
  • SMP
  • St. John Fisher College

Silver Sponsors

  • NetApp
  • Pivot Point Security

Patron of LVR

  • Al Sigl Community of Agencies
  • Marathon Engineering
  • Roofing Innovations, LLC
  • Stantec

Team Sponsors: Architectural Foundation of Greater Rochester; Avalon Document Services; The Bonadio Group; Brighton Securities;  EFPR Group LLP;  Friends & Foundation of the Rochester Public Library; Harris Beach; Harter Secrest & Emery LLP; Monroe Community College; Monroe County Library System, Nazareth College; Nixon Peabody LLP; Phillips Lytle LLP; Rochester Institute of Technology; Thomson Reuters; Underberg & Kessler LLP; Wood Oviatt Gilman LLP

Here’s how you too can help: DONATE or VOLUNTEER

Trivia in Pursuit of Literacy

LVR Announces 2017 Brain Game

Rochester, New York. This fast-paced and high-stakes annual trivia game draws teams from across the region in support of a broad range of literacy programs. Literacy Volunteers of Rochester, Inc. announced today it will be holding its 2017 Brain Game on Thursday, October 26 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Holiday Inn – Downtown. The winning team gets a gold (painted) brain trophy!

“This event is such a lot of fun and our supporters ensure that we have a huge impact,” says Robert Mahar, LVR’s executive director.

Literacy Volunteers of Rochester has been serving Monroe County for more than 50 years. Its small staff and large pool of volunteers improves the reading, English language, math and digital literacy skills of adults in Monroe County. Volunteers support participants in achieving their personal goals to fully engage in their community as citizens, parents, consumers and workers.

During the past program year (July 2016 to June 2017), more than 450 LVR volunteers contributed nearly 17,000 hours of service and supported over 1500 individuals in our community.

There is still time to support this event. Become an event sponsor or buy an individual ticket. Visit our website at https://literacyrochester.org/campaigns/brain-game/

WHAT: 21 teams from across the region are competing in a fun-filled trivia game to support the cause of literacy.

WHO: Event Gold Sponsors include Bond Schoeneck & King Attorneys, St. John Fischer College, SMP and Digital Literacy Navigators. Silver Sponsors include NetApp, Pivot Point Security. Other event patrons include Al Sigl Community of Agencies, Marathon Engineering, Roofing Innovations and Stantec.

WHEN: Thursday, October 26 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm at the Holiday Inn – Downtown, 70 State Street, Rochester.

Here’s how you too can help: DONATE or VOLUNTEER

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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. 

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Building Blocks for Literacy

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” —Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

by Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Contributor
Senior Curriculum Advisor at Age of Learning/ABCmouse.com

I have previously written about how important it is to develop a love of reading, and how parents can help children become successful readers, especially through the development of oral vocabulary. According to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading:

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important.

Life is so exciting for young children. Everything around them is a new wonder to explore, a learning experience filled with language. You can take advantage of the child’s natural curiosity and imagination to create delightful language learning opportunities that are immersed in play. As children engage with the world around them, literacy can be linked to their experiences. This is especially powerful when parents focus on building blocks to literacy, beginning as soon as a child is born and continuing through his or her school career. by Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Contributor, Senior Curriculum Advisor at Ag of Learning/ABCmouse.com

Continue reading …

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Adult Education & Family Literacy Week

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week (September 24-30, 2017) reminds us that literacy plays a vital role in the educational achievement, economic success and health of families. As many as 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, perform daily math and use technology above a third grade level.

By designating September 24-30 as national AEFL Week, LVR and other literacy organizations are seeking to raise public awareness about the impact of adult education and family literacy in order to expand access to basic education programs for low-literate adults.

Consider the following facts on the National Impact of Literacy:

  • A mother’s reading level is the single greatest determinant of a child’s success
  • Low literacy costs an estimated $230 billion in annual healthcare costs
  • Women with low literacy are twice as likely as men to earn less than $300 a week
  • Minimum wage workers increased wages by $18 to $25 within 18 months of exiting an adult education program
  • Low literate adults are less likely to vote or join community groups

A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate but fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.

Low literacy affects every area of life, in New York State, and throughout the U.S.

  • 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
  • 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
  • 76% of adults on public assistance are low-literate
  • 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

Literacy Volunteers of Rochester is a leader in the cause of literacy. Our English language, math, Family Literacy and Digital Literacy programs are tackling core challenges confronting the Rochester community. Here’s how you can help:

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New York’s Literacy Problem

A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate–reading below the 5th grade level—lack a High School Diploma or cannot speak English…

BUT fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.

Low literacy affects every area of life

43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
76% of adults on public assistance are low literate  or unable to read more than simple text
Public assistance recipients with the lowest literacy skills stay on assistance the longest
Parents who can’t read are likely to have children who can’t read well
75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

For more about how you can help, Contact Us

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DONATE HERE

International Literacy Day

This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. On 8 September, 2017 a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.  Continue reading …

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.

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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