Saturday, December 1, 2001

READ/Orange County

Literacy program reaches many
The Orange County Register: November 22, 2001 by Catrine Johansson

Simple things, such as reading a fortune cookie or writing checks are impossible feats for a large group of Orange County residents.

The same group of people often don't vote, don't get higher education and don't get well-paying jobs.

This group is the some 400,000 people who are functionally illiterate, a disguised problem that holds back some 20 percent of the population nationwide from the American dream.''

Since READ was founded in 1991, some 800 volunteer tutors have helped 1,500 students, or ``learners,'' as they are called.

Tutors are available through all 28 county library branches. Eleven branches have designated literacy centers with teaching materials and study rooms. The Laguna Niguel, Aliso Viejo and Laguna Beach branches all have literacy centers. There are 15 tutors and seven learners at the Laguna Niguel Branch; six tutors and five learners at the Aliso Viejo branch; six tutors and four learners at the Laguna Beach branch.

Two Families for Literacy programs that teach literay to whole families are available in Laguna Beach. One meets at St. mary's Episcopal Church in the La Playa Center on Park Avenue, and the other meets at the Boys and Girls Clubs at 1085 Laguna Canyon Road.

All literacy training is confidential in the READ program, West said. Sometimes, not even family members know that a relative is in the program.

Funded through tax money and grants, the tutoring is free of charge to the learners. The tutors do not get paid.

``In fact, we ask the tutors for a $20 donation to cover training materials,'' West said.

Each tutor and learner is asked to commit a minimum of 50 hours over six months to the program. During that time, tutor and learner will work with material that is pertinent to that individual learner.

If a grandmother wants to read so she can read to her grand children, the tutoring will focus on the children's book she wants to read. If someone wants to read to follow cooking instructions, a Betty Crocker cookbook may be used.

``Learners won't learn if they aren't interested in the material,'' West said. ``Once the interest is there we can expand into different reading later.''

In instances when READ tutors work with parents to children in the Head Start program, they will donate the book they've used in the sessions to the families. Some $6,000 worth of books are donated in this way every year.

``It's often the first book in the household or the first book in English,'' West said.

Some 60 percent of the learners were born in another country, West estimated. The remaining 40 percent are illiterate due to slow development, substandard schooling or social promotion through the school system.

``Thank God we're finally getting away from social promotion,'' West said.

For more information, call (714) 566-3070, or visit http://www.readoc.org/.

San Bernardino Public Library

Literacy coordinator brings new worlds to adult learners
The Sun: November 26, 2001 by Jocelyn Cahir

A simple menu, a road map, a street sign. Reading these things is fundamental in everyday life.

Paula Miller, literacy program coordinator for the San Bernardino Public Library, is just the woman to make that possible for everyone.

Miller is being recognized by The Sun for her outstanding work in adult literacy.

"I'm absolutely overwhelmed!" Miller said. "This is truly an honor."

Nominated by principal librarian Millicent Price, Miller is responsible for management, development, training and empowerment of literacy staff.

"Everybody related to the literacy field is so wonderful," Price said. "They are the best people in the whole world. (Paula is) a wonderful human being. She believes in literacy from the bottom of her heart."

Programs such as adult basic education and English as a second language are scheduled at varied times for the convenience of the learner.

"(If) people can't read, they can't function in society," Price said. "(Paula's) so helpful, giving them these skills to function in the world."

The Literacy Center depends on grants for its existence, and Miller happens to be an expert on writing grant applications. The funding sources includes grants from the California Literacy Campaign, Families for Literacy, the U.S. Department of Education and Verizon.

"To offer literacy services, I'm the person that oversees everything and writes the grants for funding," Miller said.

In addition to her normal duties, Miller initiated a free eight-week health education class for new readers, a pilot project she hopes will be expanded statewide. Classes were conducted at the Dorothy Inghram Branch Library and the Paul Villasenor Branch Library. The classes were taught at a third-grade reading level, with the goal of teaching better reading skills to help students better understand health care information.

Officials from the San Bernardino County Health Department and the San Bernardino Fire Department were instructors for some of the classes.

Office manager Glenda Monroe spoke well of Miller.

"She moves furniture with us, teaches class when a tutor is absent, encourages after-school homework and (encourages) students in their studies and leads by example," Monroe said. "(Paula) finds time to learn about everybody in the literacy center and makes it personal, too."

Miller said her work is fulfilling but admits to getting stressed out.
"I do have to say that you wonder why you are here at times, with stress in large, but when you have an adult student that, for the first time, was able to read a menu or a street sign and hug you and thank you, it's all worth it," she said. "An adult can tell you they've done these things that's what makes it worthwhile. That's ultimately why I'm here

Monday, October 15, 2001

READ/Orange County

2001 Acts of Caring Award Winners: Libraries

Orange County, California: READ/Orange County (Orange County Public Library)

In 1991, READ/Orange County (READ/OC) was created to provide an array of literacy services to individuals with low-level English skills and non-reading residents of the county. Trained volunteer tutors provide one-on-one and small group tutoring in basic reading, writing and English skills, so that individuals are more employable, more informed, and able to achieve goals such as getting a driver’s license or completing their GED.

In 1997, READ/OC started the Families for Literacy component to deal with the issue of intergenerational cycle of illiteracy. Children whose parents are functionally illiterate are twice as likely to be illiterate and also more likely to drop out of the school system. Volunteer tutors, therefore, work with parents and children so that parents learn how to communicate with and be involved in their children’s education, and children learn school readiness skills prior to beginning school.

READ/OC tutors also work with inmates in the five Orange County jail facilities to improve literacy skills and encourage detainees to continue their education after their release or transfer from prison. The benefits of READ/OC extend to all residents of Orange County because literacy levels have a direct impact on every aspect of society.

Literacy skills enable learners to become more effective citizens who can vote, better participate in their children’s education and adapt to the changing demands of the workplace. Since the inception of the program, volunteers have contributed 80,000+ hours of tutoring and an additional 82,000+ hours in talent and support services. Two READ/OC volunteers and the Literacy Services Coordinator have received Congressional Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Services.

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Monday, October 1, 2001

Riverside County Library

Libraries stress literacy's importance:
They offer an array of programs for children and adults.
Press-EnterpriseL September 25, 2001 by Marilee Reyes

Without the ability to read adequately, daily living is full of obstacles.

For children, schoolwork is next to impossible. For adults, applying for a job, taking a test for a driver's license or reading the instructions on a bottle of cough medicine can be a nerve-wracking challenge.

According to Paula Owen, former branch manager at the Valle Vista Library, there are many reasons people can't read or have difficulty doing so. Sometimes the problem is physical, such as optical or neurological conditions that hamper learning. In these cases, special steps need to be taken by the person affected to try to correct the problem, Owen said.

Libraries offer numerous programs to help children and adults learn to read, she said.

Usually with adults, their inability to read or to read adequately was never addressed when they were in school, Owen said. An adult who can't read also has to deal with the embarrassment of not reading and often is too uncomfortable to ask for help to learn.

Help is confidential

One of the reasons the library tutoring programs are confidentiality-based is to encourage more adults to take advantage of the free tutoring programs, according to area literacy workers.

The Riverside County Library System branches in Valle Vista and San Jacinto and the city-run Hemet Public Library offer programs such as Families For Literacy and Adult Literacy.

At the Valle Vista branch, a phonics-based program for school-age children, Read at Last, began earlier this month. Offered Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3 to 5 p.m., it includes tutors.

Dawn Wasley, acting branch manager, said that after an initial interview to determine a child's needs, the student meets with the tutor three times a week for at least 20 minutes for four to eight weeks. There is no charge, but an appointment schedule is required. In addition, homework help is also available.

Sharon Aguagenti, branch manager at the San Jacinto Library, said the branch is putting together a program called Project Dream in conjunction with the San Jacinto Unified School District. It is expected to begin in November.

Aguagenti said students will be referred to the library after an evaluation using school district testing. The library will train the volunteer tutors and coordinate the program.

Nancy Johnson supervises the Families for Literacy and the Please Read To Me programs at the Hemet library. Please Read To Me is designed to encourage new parents to read to their babies.

"We want parents to know how important it is to read to their children from this very early age," Johnson said.

Please Read To Me is open to parents and infants born since May. The parent enrolls at the library and receives a tote bag, book and information on how to read to a child. Every six months they get an incentive gift. When the child turns 3, he or she receives a special invitation to attend the preschool story hour.

"Of course, preschool story time is a long-standing tradition," Johnson said. The program, which begins Oct. 4 at 10:30 a.m., will be conducted in eight-week segments.

Breaking non-reading cycles

Laurie Eastman, Riverside County coordinator of Families for Literacy for the county, said that ordinarily the parent is a child's first teacher.

"If they can't read, they're not modeling to their children," Eastman said. That continues the cycle of generations of non-readers, she said.

Families for Literacy is available at each library to families with preschool-age children. The parents are helped with their reading and they are given books to take home and read with their child.
"The whole point is to have the child to sit on your lap while you read," Eastman said. "And if you start with this from birth, holding your child on your lap when you read, you create a special bond, a closeness. You're teaching them a love of reading."

Hemet Public Library

Area libraries plan for literacy month
Press-Enterprise: September 25, 2001 by Julie Farren & Marilee Reyes

September is International Literacy Month, during which libraries across the nation emphasize special reading programs for adults and children who have reading problems.

At the same time that schools are back in session, libraries also resume their yearly programs.

The three libraries that serve the San Jacinto and Hemet area are Valle Vista and San Jacinto, both county branches, and Hemet Public Library, a city facility. All offer various literacy programs.

Government statistics have shown that one in five adults in Riverside County cannot read and write well enough to fill out a job application unassisted, said Melodie Earickson, literacy site supervisor for the Library Adult Literacy Program, Southwestern Riverside County.

Among the programs offered countywide are adult tutoring and Families For Literacy. Several libraries have individual programs: Valle Vista Library is beginning Read at Last for school-age children; San Jacinto Library will start Project Dream in November in conjunction with the San Jacinto School District; Hemet Public Library has Please Read to Me for parents with infants.

The Adult Tutoring Program, Read at Last and Project Dream require volunteer tutors to meet the need. A volunteer need not have a professional background. Training is provided.

The library coordinates the tutoring schedule to accommodate both tutor and student and the coordinator is available to advise the tutor and provide on-going evaluation.

For information about Hemet Library programs call (909) 765-2440; for San Jacinto Library call (909) 654-8635; for Valle Vista Library call (909) 926-2611.