By Tara Forman
This year marks Mission Literacy in Motion’s 20th anniversary. We began in 1992 as Mission Literacy Association, and have been a volunteer-driven organization for most of our existence.
Only in the past few years have we been able to secure funding to pay staff salaries, which has allowed us to expand our programs in order to offer services that meet the unique learning and literacy needs within the community. Here are the programs currently in operation:
One of our largest volunteer-driven initiatives is the adult tutoring program. Through this we pair learners with a volunteer tutor to work on learner-identified literacy goals by meeting once a week for one to two hours in the community (usually, the library).
The strength of this program is that it is learner-centred and provides flexibility to accommodate learners from diverse backgrounds, including adults who are English as a Second Language (ESL) learners, those looking to upgrade education or pursue job opportunities, and adults with developmental delays. Free training is provided for tutors, who gain experience in helping other adults to improve their skills in reading, writing, math, computers and English.
Some of the volunteer tutors have found that small group settings are effective for promoting confidence in the learner — one of our dedicated and talented volunteers named Francis has taken on a number of learners who work at the seniors home where she resides, and shared that one technique she prefers is asking the learners to evaluate and support each other by providing feedback on their listening and speaking skills.
Children in Grades 1-4 are matched with a youth or adult volunteer and meet once a week for an hour. The program provides extra support for the Little Buddies through fun and engaging activities that promote a love of reading and foster skills to help children succeed in school. This program features almost 45 volunteers at the moment.
We also offer a Homework Club program, which runs Monday at Mission Central and Thursday at West Heights. This program is run by an energetic and warm-hearted volunteer named Brigid who provides support with any school subject for elementary school children and their parents.
We also have opportunities to volunteer with our outreach program, which brings MLIM’s big green Literacy Bus out into all areas of Mission’s expansive territory. This community development initiative provides a lending library, resource referral, computer access, help with filling out forms, family literacy programming, and other services as identified by the needs of the community.
Our community outreach can involve anything from helping communities with practical projects like cooking, crafting, gardening or building to taking part in artistic and creative endeavours or reading stories to children and helping others learn how to navigate technological tools.
If you are interested in helping out, contact community literacy outreach coordinator Tara Forman, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 604-557-7614.