The heart and soul of Blue Ridge Literacy is the dedicated cadre of volunteers who give up their time, energy, and expertise to help adults and families throughout the region to develop English literacy skills. BRL has been very blessed by the quality and commitment of our hundreds of volunteers, and we continue to offer opportunities for service that really make a difference to others and throughout our community.
So how do you get started as a volunteer with Blue Ridge Literacy?
If your volunteer interest is in tutoring—working with another person to help them learn to read and write English—you are encouraged to attend one of the scheduled one-hour information sessions. At that meeting, you will learn about the various program offered through Blue Ridge Literacy, and can then decide if tutoring is for you. Call the Literacy office at 265-9339 to register for the next orientation.
Now, you might ask, “if I want to volunteer as a tutor, what qualifications do I need?”
First and foremost, you need to have a real desire to develop a learning relationship with an adult learner, to help him help himself. You need the willingness and commitment to work with another and to walk with another person on a very important journey—learning to read and write English. You do not need an education background, you don’t need to speak a second language (in fact, we discourage the use of any language except English), you don’t need any experience as a tutor.
Other Tutor Qualifications:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or GED
- Know how to read and write English
We will help you with everything else. In fact, the professional staff of Blue Ridge Literacy provides extensive tutor training for all new volunteer tutors. During a five-week training program (meeting three hours each week), new tutors learn how to help learners set goals, select material, and plan lessons. This tutor training is free (although there is a $25 fee to cover the cost of the training materials).
At the end of the training, new tutors are matched by staff with one or more learners. Matches are based upon a variety of factors, including the tutor’s comfort level, geography, and time schedules. The Blue Ridge Literacy staff continues to provide support, training, and resources throughout the tutor-learner match, to help the learner reach his goals. The BRL office has a well-stocked literacy lending library, as well as a computer learning lab, for tutors and learners to use.
Each tutor-learner pair meets for two hours each week, usually in one of the public libraries. The tutor continues with his learner as long as each desires (some have been together for several years), but for at least six months. The tutor and learner discuss what the learner seeks to learn, study, and/or practice in the tutoring sessions, setting realistic goals. Lessons then address the skills and knowledge the learner(s) need in order to reach those goals.
Of course, there are other very important volunteer opportunities besides tutoring, that are vital to the work of Literacy in the region. Non-tutoring volunteer roles include:
* Newsletter—writing, publishing, mailing the bi-monthly “Literacy Matters”
* “Writing From The Heart”—organizing, compiling, editing, binding the annual collection of learner writings
- Representing Blue Ridge Literacy at local events and festivals
- Volunteering at special fund-raising events (such as the annual Scrabble and Spelling Bee gatherings)
- Serving on organization committees, including Marketing, Program, and Financial Development
Contact us at 265-9339 if you can help in any way!