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Volunteer Spotlight

Rose Gordon

rose gordon class

Rose (second from left) with one of her Communication at Work classes.

Rose’s professional background is in Information Technology, and she worked with adult learners for many years. She found her way to Literacy Advance in the summer of 2014.

She was initially interested in becoming a volunteer computer coach, and an Adult Basic Education (ABE) tutor. She and an ABE learner were together for over a year, but eventually scheduling conflicts got in the way, and they were unable to continue. (Don’t worry, the learner now has another weekly class with a different tutor!)

More and more, adult learners are under economic pressure and express interest in improving their work readiness. Having high-level English proficiency is an important success factor. So when we decided to offer a Communication at Work class that helps learners with grammar, vocabulary, and culture unique to U.S. work situations, Rose embraced it.

She completed English as a Second Language tutor training, and began tutoring small-group classes using the video-based lessons. She helped with resume writing and interviewing skills, too, and earned very positive student feedback.

She did have some attrition recently, for the best reason possible: one student couldn’t come to class anymore because he got a job, and he said her class helped him a lot! She is now both a tutor and mentor to other volunteers who are interested in using these materials to help learners develop their professional communication skills. Thank you, Rose!

What brought you to Literacy Advance?

I love reading and enjoy helping people reach their goals. I have also done a bit of traveling in the U.S. and abroad and recognize the sense of empowerment and enhanced self-esteem gained from being able to communicate effectively in one’s surroundings. 

I was looking for a place where I could provide adult learners the encouragement and communication skills (reading, writing, speaking) needed to function successfully in their environments.  Literacy Advance was a perfect fit.  

What do you most enjoy about volunteering? 

The STUDENTS!  They are always enthusiastic, dedicated, grateful and eager to absorb every bit of information shared by the tutors.rose gordon class

The tenacity shown by many of the students as they navigated day-to-day obstacles to attend class was admirable. One of my students arrived almost two hours before class began to avoid missing the bus and arriving late. She was also one of my most attentive and engaging participants! 

I am also humbled by the creativity and determination these adult learners exhibit on their path to providing an improved quality of life for themselves and their families.  

Also, the STAFF! The Literacy Advance staff is awesome. They provide the tools, techniques and support needed for volunteers to be successful while providing a cheerful and welcoming environment for students to learn.

What inspires you (as a tutor, or in life in general)?

One of my favorite inspirational quotes is: “believe that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that you might be that light for someone else.”  I strive to be that beacon of light for others.

Little did I know how much light I would receive back from them!  The students’ openness to share information about their backgrounds and goals, and how the lack of literacy skills has altered the trajectory of their lives is so inspiring.

Several of my ESL students, for example, held highly skilled jobs in their countries; however, due to their current literacy challenges, they are unable to pursue those occupations here in the U.S. 

I am inspired each time a student’s face lights up after comprehending a challenging topic, or when they shed tears of joy at reaching a milestone, or after I receive a hug or other display of appreciation for spending time with them.

What would you say to other people thinking about volunteering?

Just do it! The need is great, the learners are eager, and the list of students waiting to be partnered with a tutor is long. It is unbelievably gratifying to use my skills to fundamentally improve the lives of the students with whom I interact.

Keep in mind that even a brief commitment of your time is greatly appreciated. The staff endeavors to make scheduling as convenient as possible for tutors. When I first started volunteering at Literacy Advance, my work schedule allowed me to tutor on Friday mornings; however, when my work schedule changed, I was able to shift my class to Saturday mornings.  Then, when that time period no longer accommodated my schedule, I switched to tutoring special classes that had a shorter time commitment.  As a volunteer, you will receive much more than you give... go for it!!

What is your favorite vacation place or activity?

I am fortunate to have vacationed at many wonderful places across the U.S. and around the world.  My two favorite vacation spots are the Grand Canyon and Sedona in Arizona. The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and has one of the deepest gorges on Earth. Standing on one of the high rims, I could look down into the canyon to view the different colored rock formations and fossil deposits. The area is a breath-taking display of nature!

Our day-trip to Sedona during that vacation was equally memorable. It is listed as one of the most beautiful places in America. Its multi-colored geologically-formed red stones seem to rise from the desert floor and the vivid colors appear to change hourly with the shifting sunlight.  I enjoyed walking along the many paths that overlooked miles of peaceful national forest land.   


Don't forget our archives of previous spotlights!

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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