FAIRMONT — A nonprofit described as one of Marion County’s hidden gems needs volunteers to help promote literacy.
The Literacy Volunteers of Marion County, a crew of volunteers who offer free tutoring, have lost many of their experienced tutors due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the lower number of tutors, the number of individuals seeking help hasn’t changed much.
“Until last February, we averaged 21, certified, available tutors,” said Kay Nesselrotte, executive director for Literacy Volunteers. “And we usually average 17-22 students per month. But we’re definitely down in numbers in terms of tutors.”
These tutors serve anyone of any age whether it be a child struggling to read due to dyslexia or a 40-year-old working on a GED. Normally, according to Nesselrotte, the organization is adamant about getting more students, but right now they’re about at capacity.
Many of their tutors are having to help 3 or 4 students throughout the week, when before the pandemic, tutors usually worked with one student depending on their individual needs.
“I’d like to recruit more students,” said Nesselrotte. “But I don’t want to do that until I recruit more tutors.”
Tutor recruitment is exactly what Literacy Volunteers is planning to do come June. They’re planning to have a two-day training session for prospective tutors, led by tutor trainer and board member, Pam Shanholtz.
“Despite what some may think, tutors do not have to have formal instructional training,” said Shanholtz. “Many of our tutors are business people, I myself came from a hospital background and some are retired teachers, but that’s not a requirement.”
Shanholtz says the only requirements are that tutors must be 18 or older and have a high school diploma or equivalent.
The June training will cover how to tutor adults and children, how to approach different personalities and how to tutor on broad topics such as phonics and vocabulary.
“The adults, in particular, come from a background having already faced challenges with those topics,” said Shanholtz. “And now they’re here to overcome these challenges and see dreams come true.”
The main factor, when it comes to tutoring, is passion and compassion as far as Nesselrotte and Shanholtz are concerned.
“Willingness and desire is more important than anything,” said Shanholtz.
Shanholtz shared the story of the first student she tutored through Literacy Volunteers and how his journey to achieve his GED is what sold her on being a tutor.
“He wanted it so bad he worked like a dog to get it and he got it. Now he’s a student at college,” said Shanholtz. “The most valuable thing to me was the look in his eyes when he made it. Then he said something to me that makes this place my passion. He said, ‘do you know why I passed? Because you thought I could.’”
“Everyone needs a cheerleader,” said Nesselrotte.
The folks that donate their time at Literacy Volunteers have countless stories like this and need help to continue promoting literacy in Marion County.
If interested in helping, becoming a tutor or to request services, call their office at 304-366-6055 or email them at LVAmarion@hotmail.com.