Literacy Volunteers applauds efforts at annual Recognition Night

Posted July 03, 2012, at 11:07 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — Literacy Volunteers of Bangor’s annual Recognition Night on June 5 was all about giving. Adult students gave effort and determination to their studies and sometimes to each other. Volunteers gave hundreds of hours to help those students. All were honored at the event at United Technology Center.

Seventy-five students were recognized for improvements in English reading, writing and speaking skills. Sixty-three volunteers were honored for their contributions, including many in the “100 Hour Club.”

Volunteer Kara Schreiber received a service award for 35 years. Presenters noted that she has tutored dozens of students from 14 different countries. Some students have been with her for more than a decade. Schreiber has used her experience to train new tutors and in turn has trained more than 220 volunteers in the past six years.

Volunteer Nancy Connor received a 20-year award. An English language tutor, she also has specialized in tutor training. She has created special workshops in English pronunciation, vocabulary and American culture for foreign students and developed curricula that expand the capabilities of tutors.

Several students were honored for remarkable persistence and achievement. Andy Fitzgerald earned a high school diploma at age 53, encouraged by his wife, Charlotte, who, inspired by his accomplishment, became a tutor.

Donna Pelkey overcame a lifetime of illiteracy and feeling marginalized.

“I have a hard time saying what I need to. But now I know that words are my voice,” she said. Martha Seavey, her tutor, read a poem that Pelkey had written for and about her mother.

One story included several kinds of giving. Student Olga Vytopilova’s husband relocated to the Boston area. When her house sold this spring, her tutor, Sylvia Ellis, took Vytopilova and her three children into her home so the children could finish the school year in the area. In turn, Vytopilova logged more than 300 administrative volunteer hours in the LV-Bangor office.

Three students’ “Pay it Forward” initiatives were recognized. Christine Chou tutors new Chinese immigrants and provides meeting places for students and tutors in her restaurants. Mike Brown shares his new reading skills with children at Parkside Children’s Learning Center. Greg Henderson visits and reads Scripture to inmates at Penobscot County Jail.

The evening also celebrated a new pilot program to explore uses of e-readers in improving literacy skills. Founded by six graduates of the 2012 Bangor Region Leadership Institute, the program donated a Kindle to longtime student Steve Scalese.

For information, call 947-8451 or visit lvbangor.org.

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