Literacy Volunteers: How You Can Help

The Gift of Literacy

Helping Adults to know the Power of Words
Helping Adults to know the Power of Words

A Simple Gift with Enormous Results

Browsing about, via internet we can go most anywhere and search billions of sites that create for us, the World at our fingertips. It's a wonderfully amazing thing. Born and educated prior to the computerized blast of technology so prevalent and continually advancing for the past few decades, I am blown away even now, by the magnitude of it all.

In addition to all that this technology brings us, the writer feels especially powerful to have such advantages and benefit to our passion. What could be more wonderful for the word smiths of this world?

Just as we feel blessed with family and friends, having close ties with loved ones, we can feel a deep sadness when we become aware of all the people who have no one of any significance in their life. Likewise, If we have a love for reading and writing, we're in a world of bliss,where words are our tools,comfort and entertainment. Can we imagine an enormous void in our entire being, to be unable to read or write, thus understand the printed word? Many adults exist who deal with this void through little fault of their own.

In searching my heart for something of value to give, to share with others, in an effort to improve man's humanity to man, this question came to me in clear and simple terms. Just as clearly, my thoughts turned to the organization, Literacy Volunteers of America. Yes, of course this was it. I knew what to do.

Give a gift of your time & talents

If you want something badly enough, you can achieve it.
If you want something badly enough, you can achieve it.

Square One, Making the connection

Once we choose to make a commitment to give of our time and talents to help others, we search for a starting point. Taking that first step, making that first call, opens the door and it's full speed ahead from there.

You can locate Literacy Volunteers through any number of their centers by searching online, checking your Yellow Pages, or simply inquiring at your local Library. This is a high profile group with millions of leaders and supporters.

The responsibility of a volunteer is to tutor adults over 21 years of age, who have limited English skills. When you first volunteer your services, you may be required to complete some basic forms and/or meet with an LVA administrator for a personal interview. It may also be necessary for you to attend a standard training session, depending on the particular situation.

In any case, suffice it to say that you will be welcomed by LVA with open arms and much appreciation. As with any National Organization, volunteers are the heart of the system and always in demand. Bilingual individuals are an especially treasured candidate for volunteer tutoring.

Once a hopeful volunteer has been through the required initial process, LVA does an impressive job at matching students with their tutor. From this point, it is the responsibility of tutor and student to arrange their introduction, in order to meet face to face and determine how they will set up their schedule of classes. As with all efforts at education, there are a few standard rules to follow for both student and tutor.

Intermission: Interesting Video!

Comfortable, safe locations, conducive to literacy classes.

Local Libraries, make for an excellent class location
Local Libraries, make for an excellent class location

Classes should take place in a variety of public locations.

Within the majority of communities throughout the Nation, there are appropriate public facilities that are happy to provide the environment to accommodate Tutor-Student one-hour classes. In most areas, the local library is utilized for this purpose, although churches, schools and community centers can also be available.

In terms of the personal, as well as professional relationship between the LVA tutor and student, both must be committed to one full year of two, one-hour classes per week, at a minimum. Both must agree to show up each class day on time and always show mutual respect. The student must also be prepared to do homework assignments as given.

Each tutor may create their own unique teaching format and include whatever tools and materials to their avail, using their talents and imagination to make each session as fun and interesting as possible. If teaching is second nature to you due to your career, you're at an advantage. However, it's safe to say that anyone having volunteered with LVA, has a serious desire and affinity for teaching. This scenario can be an incredibly exciting and self-satisfying experience.

The Value, Fun, Purpose & Rewards

One on one instruction is optimal.
One on one instruction is optimal.

A Look inside the teaching sessions

It is with pride and pleasure I am able to share this with you, based upon personal experience. Since completing four years participation with the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization, several years back, I'd been contemplating becoming involved with another but different volunteer organization.

Literacy Volunteers of America had always called to me, but it was my involvement with our HubPages H.O.W. Mission that gave me the gentle push I needed to go forward. I cannot help but see the value of a literacy program to advance the goals of helping to make Humanity One World.

Try to imagine the heartwarming experience, of meeting an adult, who, for all intent and purpose, has shown up to their first day of English class, all excitement and jitters. It is a visible, tangible aura he/she displays, that you the tutor, offer a new path for them to literally improve the quality of their life. This is powerful.

It is important to understand that in my particular area of New York State, farmlands of every variety,span hundreds of thousands of acres. It is because of these farms that migrant farm workers are drawn to this area from not only Puerto Rico but also, this opportunity brings Mexicans who have obtained work visas. Most of these workers come with their families and reside in temporary housing provided by the farm owners.

Through the years, it has become a common practice, that while the men work the farms from sun-up to sundown, their wives will attend classes to learn the English language. They hope to not only learn well but also to bring what they have learned home to their husbands and children.

A 24 year old "Rosa," was my first student and what a joy was Rosa to work with. Not only eager and determined, she was a sweet, happy person. With my basic grasp of Spanish, combined with Rosa's collection of approximately 20 English words and a deck of picture cards I had printed up, we muddled through our first conversation.

I'm not sure I can adequately describe the pure joy of seeing Rosa's eyes light up and her big smile, each time she made a connection to an item from Spanish to English. She would hold the item for dear life and repeat the word over and over.

We have our third session this week and I am completely convinced at this point, I made a wise and rewarding decision to join LVA. I am already looking forward to taking on a second student since it seems within my comfort zone to donate a mere 4 hours per week to this end.

Would I encourage others to make an inquiry of Literacy Volunteers of America? Not only would I say, "absolutely," but I feel confident to promise you an exciting and satisfying experience. You are giving of your time,talent and concern for a fellowman, in an effort to assist them in their quest to improve their quality of life.

If this is not amazing and powerful, I'm not sure what might be. Adios, Amigos. Hasta Luego.

Share knowledge: TEACH.....(Easy Listening)

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Comments 52 comments

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 16 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks Peg! This is so much fun, it's hard to believe how very important & serious a movement it is. I can see myself continuing this for years. There's much to be said for being able to see & hear immediate results to your efforts!

PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 16 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Volunteering for this truly activity sounds truly heartwarming and fulfilling. Both student and teacher feel the positive effects of the time invested. You're doing something really worthwhile with your time, Paula. Thanks for sharing your experience here to inspire others.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

I do know that if you're going to volunteer your time and efforts....make sure that it's something you Love to do, so it doesn't become a burden......It' really much better to have fun, helping someone!

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

Excellent hub Effer! Kudos to you for helping others learn to read english. Volunteers are angels on earth, no matter what they help and assist with. Up! Awesome!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author


You could always do this on your own, I'm sure. If it's something that interests you, you might want to think about it, if you have the time!

Thanks for the visit!

Dream on....

I'm sure you are grateful for having learned English throughout your life. I can admire those who are self-taught too. It proves how determined they are!...Thank you and come again.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

unknown spy....Thank you so much for visiting, your sweet comment and for sharing. I am grateful. Peace.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Julie....Hi there, friend....You know, I have not ever spoken to anyone who has spent any amount of time as a volunteer with LVA, who didn't absolutely love their experience.

So, I'm happy with my choice. Thanks for the nice comment!

DREAM ON profile image

DREAM ON 4 years ago

Reading your hub made me realize how fortunate I am.Having learned English all my life.Now seeing how people like yourself have made the difference.What a wonderful hub.I have met many Spanish people in work who have over the years who have taught themselves English by listening and repeating over and over never taking an English class in their life I was so amazed how far they have come.I help them with a few words when I can.Some have gone on to English classes on their own.The thirst for knowledge is so wonderful.The smile in their face is priceless.I found your hub incredible.I hope more people take the time to read and help.

Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 4 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

We do not have anything like that. It is interesting!

unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Sharing this.. i am so impressed and wanted the world to know. such an amazing writer you are.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Paula, great hub and one that I hope gets well read! I used to be a literacy volunteer just after I graduated. I did it for about 2 years and I then qualified as a literacy tutor and did it for a living for a little while too. I think it was one of the best things i ever did (the volunteering stint, less so the actual tutoring) because I could see people's confidence levels rising and showing them the joy of reading was something I really enthused about - I gave my own books to the place I was volunteering so that there was always plenty of choice. Some of the people I worked with were illiterate and that was very hard work but the rewards were amazing. I didn't get any money for it but I was richer all the same!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author are too sweet, midget....and bless you too! Thank you for stopping by. Always good to see you!

midget38 profile image

midget38 4 years ago from Singapore

An amazing commitment, Paula.Having taught second language learners and those with no literacy skills, I can totally relate to what you are saying. My blessings to you for sharing your talents with those who need your help. Am sharing!!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author


Honey girl, when your life is not so hectic....YOU DESERVE TO TAKE A BREAK AND LET SOMEONE READ TO YOU! I volunteer! LOL!


OMG....that's what I meant when I said, "It must be so difficult to read an Oriental Language!" How the heck do you FIRST learn the foreign alphabet!??

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

Paula, In Mandarin Chinese, "Happy New Year" is said as "Xin Nian Kuai Le" and written as 新 年 快 乐。The Chinese New Year's Day is about one month from now.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Dear Paula,

Do you know there are five wonderful pictures in this hub...and it is so well written about something real, meaningful and inspirational...

Well, this is my perspective anyway. Seriously, you blow me away.

When my life is a bit less chaotic, I will so do this as well... Thank you for sharing this. Voted UP and UABI. Love, Maria

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Glimmer......As writers, being illiterate seems like an even worse issue than it can appear to be! I can actually feel sad for a person who has not had the sheer joy of picking up a book.....or penning a simple sentence! Thank you for the visit!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Honey...Well, I surely don't need to preach to the choir, now do I? I can relate to your experience and the way it affected your life. Imagine how grateful your student is!..........Peace, sweet young lady

Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

Glimmer Twin Fan 4 years ago

Awesome hub about a great organization. Everyone should know how to read. Voted up, awesome & shared.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Leslie...I do appreciate your long and lovely comment, gf....I feel as you do about our Native tongue. It is a beautiful thing!

I wonder where it falls on the scale of easy to difficult...for people from another learn English?

HoneyBB profile image

HoneyBB 4 years ago from Illinois

Effer, I have been a literacy tutor in the past and look forward to getting back into it in the future. I had a student, Don, who was in his early 80's who had never learned to read for reasons such as what you brought up. He was raised on a farm and had to work from a very young age. I live in a rural area. What a joy it was for me to see his face light up with his three tooth smile and hear his cackling hearty laughter when he figured out a word on his own. It was pure joy for me to witness. I am smiling with a tear running down my face just remembering him and my experience with teaching him. Imagine what it must have been like for him to walk in a town with signs everywhere and not have a clue what any of them said. I loved tutoring and I think you picked the perfect thing to volunteer at.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Paul....Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience with ESL! I wish more people would understand that if they find a volunteer position, doing something they truly love, it becomes fun rather than a chore! "Happy New Year"......How is that said in Manadarin?

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Tammy....That's one of my goals in life...."to make a point!" LOL....If it inspires...that's even better! I have a male friend who would sit quietly, listening to me gab on & on forever...until he would finally ask, "Paula, Do you have a F- - - - - g POINT?" But I'd laugh so hard, I could never get to my point!!.......

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks, teaches. There are many organizations to help people advance and improve. Anyone with the desire to help, can surely find something they would enjoy doing, The key is to do what you love doing, so that volunteering is a joy and not a chore! "Happy New Year."

ImKarn23 profile image

ImKarn23 4 years ago

it's like you read my mind, sista! Years ago i wanted to volunteer to go to a different country to teach english, but was told i would be a 'hindrance' due to my propensity for 'infection'...

i adore the english language and so would enjoy helping others appreciate it and utilize it easier! I've been to many countries where my native tongue is not spoken - and - it makes it sooo difficult, and that's just visiting! Sadly - i'm a bit in 'country purgatory' at the moment - half in canada - half in the US, but - once i'm settled in permanently - THIS is it for me! Perfect! thanks for thisPaula - great idea!

(interesting that your hub gave me goosebumps almost the entire read...hmmmmm...)

I'm gonna try tweeting and 'pinning' this too, Paula...i've been getting amazing results from it - let me know if you see a difference, k?

have an AWESOME sunday, my friend!

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand


Your participation in Literacy Volunteers of America is awesome. I really enjoyed reading this hub, and I can imagine the great satisfaction you are getting in making Humanity One World. When I was younger and living in the States, I briefly taught ESL to immigrants from a variety of countries and found the experience very rewarding. Voted up and sharing.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

A wonderful idea on how to help individuals achieve a sense of acomplishment and purpose. Reading is important and opens doors to many adventures and opportunities. I support this cause in my classes to my college students and a few are now volunteering at local elementary schools. Voted up.

tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a great way people can volunteer and make the world a better place. If volunteers would spend one on one time with children who struggle, we could see a big difference in society in no time. You have made a very inspiring point!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

This is very interesting to me. I'm sorry to say I had not heard of this wonderful man until now. Thank you for the information. I will take the time to read about John Woods. Kind & generous of you to donate books!..... Peace.

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

John Woods "Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" is one of favorite books. He left his job at Microsoft and came to Nepal and funded schools and libraries. I have never directly volunteered in literacy programs, but donated books.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks Eddy ..for the comment and encouragement! Good to hear from you. Happy New Year!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

A great hub full of optimism and wonderful idea. I am voting up,across .

Keep up the great work and I shall share this gem all around. Have a great weekend .


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author


I amaze a lot of people...not always in a good way!!LOL


Thanks! It beats the hell out of hangin out on street corners, whistling at good looking old men! But, I still do that on week-ends!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

SIS...Not being able to read or write is another one of those things, we never even think about. It surprises me how many people there are that either cannot read or have very limited skills. Thanks Sis....glad you stopped by. Always good to see you. Happy New Year!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

mHatter....This is probably the most fun I've had doing volunteer work. I spend at least 2 hrs. a week at the local library, browsing around anyway. Might as well be contributing to something important. Thanks so much for your comment. Happy New Year.

sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

What a wonderful way to give of yourself. Voted up and shared.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

You never cease to amaze and thrill! What a wonderful soul you have dear friend. Don't go denying anything or I'll go get "Rosa". I tutored reading for children in poor neighborhoods when I was in high school and loved every minute of it. Due to a very lot of stuff going on in our lives right now I cannot volunteer as my time is spent helping to care for my in-laws, but a time will come and this would be right up my alley.

Thank you Effer for being you and sharing such an amazing give back.

Love ya!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting, and shared and tweeted.

Angela Blair profile image

Angela Blair 4 years ago from Central Texas

Excellent Hub and superb direction -- how often we completely forget there are persons unable to read -- and what a handicap that is. Congrats to you for your efforts and you're an inspiration to the rest of us. Best/Sis

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

You are very welcome Doc....I'm enjoying this. Sorry I never got involved sooner. It's shocking to learn of the number o f individuals in this country, in 2013, who cannot read. But it's encouraging to have organizations like LVA to stamp out illiteracy!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks.Pam. Glad you could stop by. This has worked out so well for me and I'm really enjoying it. There are more volunteer organizations that stem from LVA. It's all very interesting.

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 4 years ago from United States

This is a great way to give something very important back. Teaching is a high calling in my opinion. I have heard of this organization but didn't know much about it. Thanks for an awesome hub.

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you so much for this. My first public school success was Mrs, Cynthia Wong's (a teacher) "Stepping Stone to Reading". My job was to get her and Benjamin Franklin middle school the funding, volunteers and community support. The program was so successful it was adopted by other schools and received city funding.

drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I am familiar with this magnificent organization, Paula, and you have performed an outstanding public service for them by educating your readers to the volunteer opportunities available. Thank you, m'dear.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Col and


Good to see you both. I am thrilled that you see this activity, not only as something positive, but as an inspiration. There are never enough volunteers for any worthwhile organization. We have to keep the wheels going forward with H.O.W. Thanks.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Shining...GREAT! I hope you do. It is a gift that gives in so many ways. You will be so glad you made the move. I'm sure you will be perfect for this!

shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Wow - I thank you for sharing this as well as your experience with "Rosa". This sounds like something for me and I will be looking into it.

Great H.O.W. addition

Donna Kay Bryan profile image

Donna Kay Bryan 4 years ago

Paula, this is a wonderful idea! I worked for a short time teaching ESL to adults. I remember how their eyes would light up when they understood something for the first time. Once some things settle down for me, I just might have to check out LVA.

Thanks for the inspiration! Voted up - beautiful and useful!


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 4 years ago from Arizona

It not only does the heart good to hear about wonderful volunteering but it is inspiring for us to get off our duffs. You are a superior person and I mostly am just plain impressed with what you are doing...Next Time in your neck of the woods it is lunch. Voting up and seriously sharing.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks bil.....I really find it a whole lot of fun!......COLD? We're freezing our butts off...and..that'll be enough snickering out of those smug Southern friends of ours, on this site!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York Author

Thanks, gm for the wonderful comment. I am pleased you found this an interesting presentation.... Peace. Hope your new year goes extremely well.

gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 4 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

This is a beautiful hub. Made me cry. We all are one. Each hand helping out others would make the world a much better place to live in. I have voted this hub UP and will share it with the rest of my followers. God bless YOU, fpherj48.

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

I got honest to God goosebumps reading this. Thank you for walking the talk, Paula! This is a wonderful example of helping humanity one person at a time. I was involved in a similar program back in college, and of course I have done it on and off over the years for different literacy programs. Bravo my friend; you have warmed my heart on a cold January morning.

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