by Linda Austin –
Literacy Council of WILCO hit the “refresh” button at the beginning of 2018. They wanted to raise their profile in the community and broaden their outreach to students and volunteers, so they enhanced their website, created a Facebook page and opened accounts on Twitter and Instagram. And they wanted to streamline their mission statement: Engage. Empower. Employ. BAM! And with a vibrant and active Board, great things are happening!
Students enrolled with the Literacy Council get classroom instruction in Basic Literacy, ESL, and/or GED Preparation, and those enrolled in Vocational Training (HVAC and Certified Nursing Assistant) will also get hands-on training and experience. Since June 2018, they have provided these services to 47 GED students, 60 ESL students, and 29 Vocational students. New vocational classes, like welding and medical secretary, are being discussed for 2019. The decision will be based on local employment opportunities and funding restriction of their partners. Stay tuned to their website and social media for more information.
SoS Compliance Committee liaison Deborah Thomas set up a December 10 site visit with Literacy Council’s Executive Director Kimberly Goode, Site Coordinator Liz Bohon, and Board member Shawn Utterback. SoS members Terri Boroczk, Compliance Chair, Lexi Elliot, Chair, Barbara Hallmark, Mary Garlock and I also attended. We learned a lot about the “re-freshed” Literacy Council WILCO.
Entry to the program is user-friendly; they welcome folks as they come in the door or apply online. A student is evaluated in the beginning, and an individualized educational strategy is developed to help him or her be successful. No one is turned away because of inability to pay the course fee of $25/year.
Many factors outside the classroom play into the success of the students, such as obstacles common to people in poverty, like food shortages, child-care issues, and lack of transportation. The Literacy Council tries to mitigate these problems and have recently partnered with Goodwill to help. They are also screening applicant students to refer them before a problem interferes with class attendance.
I asked Executive Director Goode about the retention of students. She explained that key factors for retention are high-quality instructors, relevant materials, and a time and place conducive to adult learning. She was happy to say they have addressed all of these. Another element is the situation of the student. She was happy to say that the people in Georgetown share the culture of showing up to participate and being grateful to be able to do so. They understand that they are part of a community that believes in helping others and giving back, and they expect results, accountability. Their students bring that ethos with them to class.
The Literacy Council is devoted to helping those in our community to grow and learn and secure sustainable employment. Hearing about the work they are doing and their hopes for the future made us proud that Seeds of Strength has a hand in this great venture.