“Nearly half of all British Columbians struggle with literacy in some form,” says Sherry Bujold, adult literacy & Youth ESL program coordinator with the Campbell River Literacy Association. “Whether that’s reading, writing, math, not being able to read a bus schedule or street signs, and they come here, because we can help them with that.”
But they need help to be able to continue to help with that.
The centre has seen a significant increase in people who need their services over the past few years, and they need volunteers to keep up with that demand.
“Last year we had over 100 learners that we helped,” Bujold says, “and this year it’ll be much the same. We’re already at, I think, 45, and we’re just in October.”
Which is why the centre is launching another round of tutor training beginning at the end of the month. For three evenings, beginning Oct. 29, continuing Nov. 3 and Nov. 5, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. volunteers are invited to come to the training sessions to learn what being a volunteer tutor is all about.
“It’s a really good training,” Bujold says. “It really lets them know everything they’re going to need to know.”
It also sets people at ease, she says, and gets them through the, “I don’t know if I can do this,” phase of volunteering.
And don’t think they’re just looking for retired English teachers. Volunteers don’t even need to have any background in education or tutoring to be able to help out.
“I always say it’s a willingness to help somebody become better in life,” Bujold says. “We always appreciate retired teachers,” she laughs, “but we have people from all different walks of life who want to help. That’s all it takes. That’s what we want. A willingness to help.”
Retired local lawyer Sid Shook, for example volunteers as a tutor at the centre and says he gets as much out of it as those he helps. When he retired a few years ago, he was looking for something to do that was interesting for him but would also give back to the community in some way.
“The students are all really eager,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun for me. I really enjoy it. I’ve actually told a few of my friends about it, and now they’re tutoring and they really enjoy it, too.”
Bujold says there’s no required number of hours or mandatory availability times for tutors, either.
“We work with however people want to do it,” she says. “If you can do one day a week, then I find a learner who also only wants to come one day a week. We’ll make it happen, however it needs to happen. If you can do more, that’s great too.”
For more information on the Literacy Association or on how to get involved, give them a call at 250-923-1275.
Contact Bujold directly by email at email@example.com for information on the adult or youth ESL programs or to get into the training to become a tutor.