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Volunteer Spotlight

Ann Darks

Ann started volunteering at Literacy Advance just this year, and brings much joy and positivity to everything that she does for us. From greeting students with a smile during her front desk shifts, to preparing thoughtful, fun lessons for her time in the classroom, Ann brings smiles to Literacy Advance every day.

If you’re at Literacy Advance during the day on Mondays or Wednesdays, or our ever-busy Saturdays, you might see Ann in her classroom or at the front desk.

How long have you been volunteering at Literacy Advance?

I'm a newbie. I began teaching my first class February 10, 2018. I started working at the front desk this past June.

What brought you to Literacy Advance?


I was searching Google Maps for non-profits in the neighborhood. My goal was to spend my time volunteering and not driving in Houston traffic. I looked at the Literacy Advance website and decided that I wanted to know more. I feel extremely lucky to have found such a great opportunity so easily.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering as a tutor?

The greatest pleasure I find in tutoring is seeing the people who begin the class as strangers becoming a mutual support group in the difficult journey of learning a new language and culture. I restores my faith in humanity.

What's your favorite part about volunteering at the front desk?

The front desk allows me to see other faces of Literacy Advance. In some ways it's like a cocktail party (coffee and tea only) with all sorts of interesting people coming and going. There is the interesting progression of the first hesitant phone calls about English class, the uncertainty of registration then the growing confidence of waiting class and regular classes.

It's fun to see the interactions of learners in the waiting area. You never know what challenge the next phone call or visitor coming through the door will bring.

What is your favorite book?

This is the hardest question of all. It is like being asked which is my favorite child. I'll narrow it down to anything by Neal Stevenson, John McPhee or Terry Pratchett. I shouldn't leave out Jane Austen.

What inspires you?

I'm a gardener. Seeing the first fragile green shoots of seedlings break through the soil and mature into a lush plant is a miracle no matter how often I see it. The courage and determination of our learners is much the same. Courage and kindness are the qualities I admire most.

What would you say to others who are thinking about volunteering?

I would say, "Give it a try." The atmosphere is so welcoming. There are well-organized staff who offer support and structure while at the same time volunteers are encouraged to find their own style of tutoring and other ways to contribute to the mission. There also seems to be a strong commitment to flexibility.

THANK YOU for all you do, Ann!


Don't forget our previous spotlights!

Find the 2018 archive here.

Find the 2017 archive here.

Find the 2016 archive here.

Find the 2015 archive here.

Find the 2014 archive here.

Find the 2013 archive here.

Find the 2012 archive here.

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