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We focus on helping each person achieve his or her potential through literacy skills.

We offer tutoring to take the U.S. Citizenship exam. Recently, two of our students passed it and are now citizens!

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When individuals improve their literacy skills, they feel more confident and able to do new things.

For some adults, reading is difficult because they have a learning disability. We help each student to discover their best learning style and build on what they already know.

The most important predictor of children's literacy level is their mother's literacy level. Each time we help a mother improve her skills, it helps her children have a better start in life.

News and Events

Changing Lives Through the Written Word
May 30, 2013 - Students, tutors and a local reporter were the stars of the evening when Literacy Volunteers of Greater Sanford held its annual dinner at the Sanford Town Club on Wednesday, May 22.

“We’re here tonight to celebrate how our programs changes our students’ lives,” LVGS Executive Director Ingrid Baily announced to more than 85 guests at the start of the evening.

LVGS President Geoff Titherington, his fellow board members and literacy volunteers presented several awards throughout the event that highlighted student achievement and the efforts of others to promote reading and other skills throughout the community.

LVGS Vice President John Rivard presented the organization’s Special Service Award to board member Jeanne Mahoney, whose commitment he praised as “unwavering.”

Tutor David Joy and his student, Kiefer Smalley, received the Student-Tutor Pair of the Year Award. Joy spoke highly of Smalley, who was unable to attend the dinner because he had to work. Joy is helping Smalley with his math literacy as Smalley works his way to his GED.

“I like to praise Kiefer a lot,” Joy said. “For everything that I teach him, I get that much back from him.”

LVGS tutor and volunteer Linda Gulnac proved an appropriate choice for the next award that LVGS presented — the Linda B. Gulnac Volunteer Award. Gulnac, who last year was the first recipient of the newly created recognition, this year had the honor of bestowing it upon longtime tutor Ann St. Cyr.

St. Cyr, a former teacher for SAD 60, has taught literacy skills to students since the late 1980s. Gulnac said St. Cyr’s LVGS students have benefitted for years from her “zeal and zest” for learning and literacy.

Accepting the award, St. Cyr called LVGS a blessing in her life — something that came along in 1986, right when she was stepping away from teaching at school due to hearing issues at the young age of 48. Days later, St. Cyr told the Sanford News that she is glad for the chance to volunteer at LVGS and to work with the students and the people she has met.

“I love that you can teach one-on-one,” she said. “Some people need to have it. I enjoy that very much about the literacy program.”

Student Richard Laitres and his tutor, Michael Colpoys, were presented with the Student Achievement Award and the Denis Forest Tutor Award, respectively.

While accepting his award, Laitres said that his increasing literacy skills have led him to explore his love of history and to bring his grandchildren to the library for story times so that they too can grow to appreciate books.

LVGS board member Jean Mahoney presented Colpoys with his award, named after the late longtime tutor Denis Forest. Mahoney hailed Colpoys as the “embodiment of the qualities that Denis shared in his tutoring.”

Indeed, when accepting his award, Colpoys spoke with passion and enthusiasm about his partnership with Laitres.

“We’ve developed an amazing relationship,” Colpoys said.

Colpoys stated that he helped Laitres learn to use the dictionary, and that they have read such classics as “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” together.

He added that Laitres became interested in researching history when they started reading “A Tale of Two Cities.” The two men started watching programs on the History Channel and surfing on the Internet to learn about the chapter of history during with the Dickens class takes place. The two of them are now reading “The Killing of Lincoln,” which has prompted even more historical research.

“It’s no longer about the book,” he said. “It’s about learning.”

LVGS board member Ellen Pouravelis presented the Tutor Recognition Award to Gladys Barraclough and Anita Daigle. Fellow board member Shawn Sullivan presented the Literacy Supporter Award to Journal Tribune Reporter Tammy Wells for her years of dedication to writing stories about LVGS’ students, staff, programs and successes.

In particular, Sullivan mentioned stories that Wells has written that have depicted the achievement of LVGS students over the years.

“You have to wonder ... how many people heard about these stories — these examples of courage and growth and happiness — and decided that their time had come, that they too could learn to read and expand their horizons and never look back?” Sullivan said. “If you read Tammy’s articles about LVGS, you see that she gets it. She knows why we’re all here and what we’re all trying to do. She’s a part of it.”

Wells accepted the award and paid tribute to the hard work of the students and others involved with LVGS.

Also during the event, Baily recognized the Sanford-Springvale Rotary Club, which last winter served as a major sponsor of the annual LVGS trivia-night fundraiser and continues to support the organization’s “Books and Blockbusters” program. The concept of “Books and Blockbusters” is for students to see a movie and then read the book on which the film is based, with the idea being that memories of the movie will be a “wind at their backs” as they work through the book. The group members started meeting last fall and decided on Louis Sachar’s “Holes” for their first movie and book. The group went to see The Portland Players’ production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” in February and is currently reading the script out loud together.

The annual dinner had a nice surprise too — two guests, who are taking part in LVGS’ literacy program at the Southern Maine Re-Entry Center (SMRC) in Alfred, asked to address the audience and thank the organization for the difference it has made in their lives.

Through this program, LVGS volunteers are offering one-on-one tutoring to female residents at the center, which is a low-security facility of the Maine Department of Corrections that is located on the grounds of the York County Jail in Alfred. LVGS tutors are helping women who have volunteered to take part in the program with reading, writing, math, and computing. Their lessons are fitted to each student’s goals, such as preparing to take the GED test, improving literacy skills for the workplace, helping children with homework, and other tasks of daily living.

Sanford Police Chief Thomas Connolly served as the night’s guest speaker and emphasized the importance of literacy in overcoming poverty and lives of crime.

“Literacy is learned,” Connolly said. “Illiteracy is passed along to children by parents who cannot read or write. If we could reduce the illiteracy rate bt just 20 percent — just 20 out of 100 — imagine the good that will result. But it’s not just 20 out of 100 because literate adults will teach their kids to be literate, who will teach their kids, who will teach their kids. It’s exponential.”

Connolly cited statistics showing the impact that not being able to read has on individuals, namely those who have fallen into criminality and find themselves in and out of prison.

“We can see illiteracy and poverty are connected,” he said. “Most jobs require at least average reading skills. Illiteracy may prevent a person from obtaining a job and eliminate any chance of escaping poverty. No job — no money. No money, no ability to achieve. No ability to achieve leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to desperation. Desperation frequently leads to substance abuse. Substance abuse leads to criminality.”

That might be simplistic, Connolly suggested, but he asked the audience to imagine what would happen if the government could be convinced to start directing more funds on teaching children to read.

“What if our goal is to have 90 percent of our children reading at grade-level?” he asked. “Is that achievable? I think it is.

“Would a higher level of literacy lead to a higher high school graduation rate?

“Would it reduce the number of people in poverty?

“Would it drastically cut the number of kids involved in the criminal justice system?

“Would it lower the teen pregnancy rate?

“Would it save some of the ... $73 million in direct health care costs?

“I think it would ...

“The solution to this is a community-based effort,” Connolly said. “We all have to be involved."

952 Main Street • Sanford, ME 04073
lvgsanford@gmail.com • 207-324-2486 • Fax: 207-324-2486
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