The children of Campbell River aren’t the only ones who have headed back to their classrooms after a summer break.
The volunteers and learners with the Campbell River Literacy Association (CRLA) are, as well.
The CRLA held their welcome back pot luck last week for the learners and tutors of their various programs to meet up, have a meal and celebrate learning together in preparation of their academic year.
Executive director of CRLA, Kat Eddy, says the numbers are in from last year, and it would seem the need for the programs they offer is still increasing.
“Last year in adult literacy we helped 117 adults in their literacy needs, we saw 57 families through our Family Learning Program and our total volunteer hours were 2,749,” Eddy says, before welcoming another couple through the doors of the room at the Robron Centre across from their offices, where they held the welcome gathering last week.
Those are all increases over previous years, Eddy says.
“It’s amazing how many people are involved. The monetary value of that is over $100,000 – if you were to look at it that way – in volunteer time that people have given out of their lives to help others.
“Campbell River is such an amazing community,” she continues. “We were at the volunteer fair downtown – and we were rushed inside because of the sudden torrential downpour – and I was still blown away by how many people came through. This community is so vibrant and so giving with their time. It’s incredible.”
That’s not to say they have everyone they need, however.
“We are always looking for more tutors,” Eddy admits. “We have another tutor training session coming up at the beginning of November, where people can come out and see if it’s for them – no pressure.”
Sherry Bujold, who oversees the CRLA’s Adult Literacy & Youth ESL programs, says she, too, is expecting the increased need to continue, based on how the year is already going.
“I’ve had such an influx of returning and new learners that all the volunteers I have are already matched up with their learners,” Bujold says. “I don’t have any more on the list, and the learners are still coming through the door. We’re not even a month into the year, and I already have over 50 learners. I’m expecting another big year.”
Eddy says they’re not just looking for retired teachers or educators, either.
“You don’t have to be an academically-trained person or a teacher to work with people, you just have to be a caring-minded individual who really feels like they want to help another person succeed in life.”
They do, however, ask people to commit for the academic year if they’re going to help out, Eddy says, “but only for an hour a week, if that’s all you can do. We’ll happily work around people’s schedules so they can help as little or as much as they are able.”
To find out more about becoming a volunteer tutor, head to the CRLA office at the Robron Centre – 740 Robron Road – or call them at 250-923-1275.And if you’re heading in to talk to them about volunteering, they would love if you would bring along a few of your old children’s books for their newly-introduced 1000×5 program, which is continuing into its second year.
1000×5, according to program coordinator Jenn Bergen, is an initiative meant to encourage more families to get reading with their children.
“Statistics show an increase in children’s vocabulary of about 6,000 words by the time they start kindergarten if they’ve been read to,” Bergen says, and that increased vocabulary makes the world a much more manageable place for children, who often get frustrated by not being able to express their feelings because they just don’t have the words.
For those who can’t make it into the CRLA office, collection bins are also being circulated again this year to the schools in the district for book collection for the program.