During the pandemic, many libraries and adult literacy programs in California closed. Determined to meet the needs of adult learners, the Redlands Adult Literacy Program continued to provide services throughout the pandemic. While a few adult learners found that distance learning during the pandemic was too much of a challenge and took a break from their literacy studies, many former and new learners have recently joined the adult literacy program with a renewed focus on improving their reading and writing.
Newly established reading and writing requirements at their jobs prompted several of the new learners to join the literacy program. Some people joined the literacy program to better their writing skills before applying to college. One learner is working with a tutor to gain proficiency in the civics and literacy skills required for her citizenship interview, and several new learners want to be able to read stories to their children and help them with homework.
So far this fiscal year, over 30 tutors and learners have been matched. Tutor training and tutor-learner workshops are in full swing to support adult learners in reaching their goals.
One of the program’s new learners is Alexandra Suarez who joined the Redlands Adult Literacy Program last year. Alexandra’s goals are to become more involved in the community, build her vocabulary, read books with understanding, and support her children in their school work. As a mother, she understands that reading is important for the entire family.
Working with her tutor, Barbara Vester, Alexandra has learned valuable literacy skills. Alexandra’s reading comprehension has improved and she has seen significant improvement in her writing skills. She participated in the Writer-to-Writer Challenge for adult learners last year and was selected as a runner-up in the Southern California competition. She uses writing strategies that she learned from her tutor to support her daughter with schoolwork; and with her guidance, Alexandra’s young daughter has also become a good writer. A.K. Smiley Public Library is her children’s second home; they participate in weekly story time events and the Family Literacy Program, an offshoot of the Adult Literacy Program.
Alexandra always wanted to help in the community, but before joining the Adult Literacy Program she did not feel comfortable going to her daughter’s school to volunteer. With her new literacy skills, Alexandra is confident in her communication skills and she volunteers regularly at her daughter’s elementary school. Participating in the literacy program has let her know that she can help others and she sees herself in a new way. Alexandra encourages people to join the Adult Literacy Program because participants will see the changes in themselves and their families.
Barbara Vester, Alexandra’s tutor, says that by volunteering with the literacy program she is able to see how the impact of her service has helped change her learner’s life. Alexandra has become an engaged member of the community, she is better able to support her children with homework, and she has gained the confidence to live a life that she finds more fulfilling.
As the literacy program grows, the demand for tutors increases and more volunteers are needed. Would you like to help someone learn to read and write? Consider attending and inviting someone you know to come to the next volunteer tutor orientation scheduled for Wednesday, May 3, at 6:00 p.m. in the Library Assembly Room. If you have questions or plan to attend the tutor orientation, please call Diane Shimota, Adult Literacy Coordinator, at (909) 798-7565 ext. 4138, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know of someone who needs help in reading and writing, help them make the first step in changing their lives by encouraging them to contact Diane Shimota. All literacy services are free and confidential.