As a tutor, I have been a member of The READ Center community since 2002. In the years just prior to becoming a tutor, I enjoyed the opportunity of traveling abroad on several occasions. While the scenery and the food choices were wonderful, I quickly realized my inability to read highway road signs, restaurant menus, grocery store labels and general directions for waiting in line or entering a building. I felt the loss of my confidence and an increase in vulnerability. Maintaining my independence was quite a challenge! As a result, I decided to take (as a fulltime working adult) some night classes in various languages. I loved the mechanics of learning, but mostly I loved the empowerment that I gained by being able to understand what I was seeing or reading. I grew to appreciate the value of sight words! With my new language skills in tow and as a student myself in 2002, I combed a weekly local entertainment guide seeking the latest information on movies, music, and more. There was a small ad in the guide. It was an ad that I had seen many times, but this time, it moved me to make a phone call. The ad was simple:
IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU CAN HELP SOMEONE. I called The READ Center.
Over the years, I’ve had the blessing of being both a 1:1 tutor as well as a tutor in support of a classroom teacher. Every experience I’ve had with The READ Center staff, students and tutors has been positive and uplifting. Initial tutor training equipped me with resources that I still use after 18 years including strategies for comprehension, writing, phonics and lesson planning. While I received a robust training with many words of encouragement from the staff at the completion of the training curriculum, at my first 1:1 tutoring session – I was petrified! After introductions, a brief chat with my student and the discovery that we shared the same birthday, we were on our way to a nine-year relationship that culminated in the acquisition of his GED! With the help of The READ Center staff, their knowledge and their support of our process, my student and I achieved tremendous joy through the accomplishment of meeting his personal goals and experiencing the fellowship of our peers. The fellowship turned into “family” and in turn meaningful and long-lasting friendships.
Living into its mission and vision, The READ Center endeavors to change lives through adult literacy by bringing about a community in which ALL adults have a literate life. A literate life means being able to read a prescription, complete a job application, obtain a driver’s license, open a bank account, assist a child with homework or compile a shopping list. Lack of literacy leads to increased risk for homelessness, poor health, joblessness and poverty. Being a member of The READ Center community (as a tutor and donor) means that I’m actively working to help overcome the adverse effects of low literacy for the individual, their family and the wider community. Through 1:1 sessions or in the classroom as small groups of tutors, students and teachers, we meet for the common purpose of changing lives for the better. Just as families do, we share ourselves, learn from each other, enjoy genuine belly laughs and celebrate our accomplishments.
I joined The READ Center because I had experienced the personal anxiety of “not knowing” what I was seeing or reading. After 18 years, I joyfully remain at The READ Center as a tutor because I fully appreciate the value of that small ad: IF YOU CAN READ THIS, YOU CAN HELP SOMEONE.
Suzanne, READ Center Volunteer Adult Literacy Tutor