Literacy council staying busy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2006

Ashley McKnight-Taylor

The last few weeks have been busy, though happy ones for the Suffolk Literacy Council.

It received more than $6,000 in grant money, instigated a new fundraiser and held a special luncheon to recognize all the volunteers who make the literacy work possible.

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The Council received a $2,102 grant last month from ProLiteracy Worldwide through its National Book Scholarship Fund.

Educational materials from the NBSF are designed to meet the unique learning needs of adult literacy students, tutors, teachers and trainers, according to a press release.

The Suffolk Literacy Council provides free, one-on-one tutoring for non-reading adults and those with limited reading skills. The Council will use NBSF materials to improve its services to adults reading at the lowest level to increase their success and retention, according to the release.

The NBSF resources also will help serve an increasing number of students working to obtain their GED.

“All funding for our program comes from grants, donations and in-kind support,” said Carol Avenson, tutor coordinator for the Council. “Because of funding constraints, we have not been able to purchase supplementary materials for basic literacy students and pre-GED materials. The NBSF is now helping us and supporting our literacy activities by providing these needed resources.”

Gary Williams, program manager, said the Council also received a grant last week from the Pruden Foundation for about $4,000. Those funds likely will cover operational costs, he said.

Grants are “very, very important” because it is their main source of income, he said.

To help raise a little extra money, the Council is raffling off a handmade quilt created from feed bags from the 1930s or 1940s, Avenson said. Currently, the quilt is on display at the Main Street Train Station. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased there or at the Suffolk Literacy Council office, which is located in the Suffolk Christian Church on Main Street.

The drawing will be held during a regular meeting on June 6, Williams said.

Of course, not all of their time is devoted to keeping the organization financially afloat. Earlier this month the Council held a “Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon” at the Pruden Center to recognize the regular folks who take the time to help others learn to read.

President Jack Chapman said the Council’s volunteers averaged more than 200 hours tutoring adults, which likely was a low estimate.

Anyone who would like to volunteer or who would like to improve his or her literacy skills should call the Suffolk Literacy Council at 539-1524.