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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