Terry McElhone is a caring, dedicated volunteer who continually goes above and beyond to help others in Louisa County. When Ms. McElhone relocated to Louisa in 1988, she recognized a serious problem in the county. Studies showed that 25% of the adults were functionally illiterate and many were living below the poverty level. In an attempt to positively impact these problems, Ms. McElhone started a local program of Literacy Volunteers in Louisa. Her program had three students during the first developmental year.
Initially using her own resources, Ms. McElhone found ways to begin recruiting other volunteers and to spread the word that there were good options for adults who wanted to learn to read. She provides a safe, confidential, free service to those who want to improve their basic reading or math skills, learn to use a computer or obtain their GED. While teaching her students, Ms. McElhone also provides them with critical information regarding other services that are available to them. Until they can read and understand the information presented, they are often not aware of available assistance from local agencies such as social services, medical outreach and others.
Over the years, her program has grown, with some minimal funding from the county and donations from local individuals and companies that Ms. McElhone has approached for assistance. She is a one-woman dynamo who handles nearly all aspects of managing this program. She is responsible for recruitment, training, fundraising, bookkeeping and other administrative responsibilities.
Because of her efforts and perseverance, the organization has grown substantially. Ms. McElhone now manages the program with 40 students and 28 volunteers. Her volunteer spirit and teaching has directly affected the lives of hundreds of students and indirectly reaches hundreds of others through student and volunteer interaction with family members and people in the community.
Her continuous dedication to improving the program also resulted in obtaining national accreditation for the local organization in 2003. This entails additional responsibilities that include online reporting, which Ms. McElhone effectively manages. She also is actively involved with the Friends of the Library and currently serves as their president.