Kenosha Literacy Council has provided adult literacy services to Kenosha County since 1965. Nominees Kathy Carr and Dorothy Jansen have been volunteers for 6 and 10 years respectively. Their service as unpaid Coordinators of drop-in tutoring allows us to provide eight hours of this help for eager adult students.
Community Needs and Solution – Because of individual study plans, attendance at these drop-in sessions can be flexible. The student population usually is 30 percent basic (those who somehow did not acquire a good literacy at an early age) and 70 percent ESL (those learning English as their second language.) As in many areas of the country, the percentage of ESL students continues to increase each year. In working with students with less than a fifth grade reading ability, Kathy and Dorothy help build a foundation which allows students to get a first or better job, go on to a GED and even higher education and become a knowledgeable part of the community.
Connection Building – the inability to easily communicate isolates people and affects their families. By facilitating improved reading, writing and speaking skills, we help our students become more capable of being involved in family, school, and community activities. ESL students no longer have to take children along as translators for health or financial transactions. Those gaining improved skills become better problem solvers and communicators.
Ongoing Involvement – During the past three years, Kathy & Dorothy have donated 6,440 volunteer hours to adult literacy. In addition to coordination duties, Kathy serves as President of the Board. Dorothy evaluates new students and coordinates quarterly Tutor Training Sessions. The council also provides adult literacy services to Kenosha County with a paid staff of three part-time people and a budget under $100,000 per year. They can do this because of the assistance of trained volunteer tutors like Kathy and Dorothy who assist 5-10 times more than the average volunteer.
Impact – In addition to the confidence gained as students learn that they can learn, Kenosha Literacy Council serves as a bridge to many areas. Some students have very little formal schooling. Students, aided by tutors, work on individualized lesson plans (some as basic as learning the sounds of the ABC’s) and acquire a basic literacy foundation that allows them to secure a first or better job, obtain GED’s, attend technical schools and even universities. Kathy and Dorothy are an integral part of this.
Innovation – Most community-based adult literacy providers have One-on-One tutoring for their students. The program seems to be innovative and unusual in that it provides the possibility of eight hours of flexible tutor-assisted study each week of the year. This allows us to have the necessary services for students with referrals from government programs that have an education requirement. The council can provide these sessions on a limited budget because Kathy and Dorothy serve as unpaid coordinators, tutors and lesson-plan writers.