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Donations to help literacy tutors

The Suffolk Literacy Council will be able to update its tutor training program after receiving money and donations from several groups at the Workforce Development Center Monday.

The Ricks, Benn and Richards Foundation, along with local members of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, donated more than $1,200, along with supplemental reading books, to SLC.

Dr. Victor Archie of Omega Psi Phi said he hopes this is just the beginning of a collaboration to fight illiteracy in Suffolk. He said all of the organizations were founded on education and lifting up the community, and they wanted to see if they could combine efforts to help with literacy efforts in the city.

“There are a lot of programs that target children, which is excellent,” Archie said. “But it is particularly a travesty … that you have a lot of adults that either cannot read or do not read at a sufficient level.”

Jessica Reitz, SLC’s tutor coordinator, said the organization was looking for materials that it could use to tutor adults. She said it needs books written simply enough that the adult isn’t afraid of what they’re seeing, yet not oversimplified to the point where it is demeaning.

“When an adult comes into our program, they’re not coming in because they’re saying, ‘I can’t read,’” Reitz said. “Nobody says that. They come in because they’re just not succeeding well enough, but they usually have something that they want, something that they want to get now — a certification or a driver’s license.”

She said the organization is also in need of tutors, something the donations will help with. Tutors currently have a day of training that lasts for eight hours, Reitz said, but many potential volunteers did not have the time for that.

The Suffolk Public Library, as a result, is going to help SLC develop a self-paced online training module for tutors, Reitz said.

“That money is going to help staff take the time to develop an actual online self-paced component of the tutor training that does align with the pro-literacy accreditation, the Virginia Adult Learning Resource Center information and the college and career readiness standards,” Reitz said.

She hopes the groups can work together to fight illiteracy, and said the adults in SLC’s program could benefit from their collective efforts.

“We do care about adults, but anybody who’s been in Suffolk knows that it’s generational,” Reitz said. “Illiteracy is a generational phenomenon.”