October 27 2009
[caption id="attachment_1453" align="aligncenter" width="374" caption="Linda, across from Joanne."][/caption]
Listen: For the final stop of Make A Difference, we spend a week with Literacy Services of Wisconsin (LSW), a great finale for our campaign. For one, they embody nearly every theme we've come across thus far -- volunteering is fun, rewarding, a chance to learn, a chance to share, and so much more. These two months, we've seen a wide spectrum of volunteer work from the conventional to the unfamiliar, and Literacy Services is a perfect blend of the two.
LSW provides literacy education to motivated adults through the efforts of dedicated volunteers, the gifts of private contributors and the use of specialized curricula to meet individual and community needs. I arrived at their building in the beautiful SoHi neighborhood (if you've never been there before, check out the neighborhood's amazing architecture sometime), and I only needed a few moments to absorb just how cool of a project LSW is.
The lobby looks into a big open main classroom, with teacher-student pairs seated at tables throughout the space. The usual tutor/tutee relationship that comes to mind is that of adult and youth, a subtle departure from this picture. As I observed from the lobby, and throughout the rest of the afternoon, the significance of this difference sunk in. These students are not there because their parents or school teacher decided they needed extra help. Rather, each and every student is at LSW of their own accord. Whatever the reason they have difficulties with reading, they all go to LSW for the same reason -- to learn.
Of course, you don't need to take my word for it, as the students can speak for themselves. In this first piece, we hear the amazing life story of Joanne and her incredibly devoted tutor Linda:
In this piece Linda says "I have learned that the people, no matter what their past history, they make the effort. They are determined, they come here day after day, absolutely with the drive to make their lives better. And I find that so inspiring and motivating in my own life." Contextually, it's clear she's talking about the students. However, her use of "the people" allows for a different reading of the statement -- those people could be the volunteers.
Produced by: Adam Carr