An 18-year-old man who reads at a third grade level that wants to become a lawyer, a 56-year-old woman who wants to improve her reading and writing skills to study phlebotomy, a 30-year-old man who speaks fluent French, but wants to enhance his understanding of the English language to go to college—these are just three students waiting to be tutored in LearningQuest’s Adult Literacy program.
Executive Director Karen Williams aims to help these three students, as well as the nearly 40 additional adult learners currently on the program’s waiting list, but she said she cannot do it without the help of more volunteer tutors throughout Stanislaus County.
“It seems trite to say, ‘We couldn’t do it without you,’ but in the case of the volunteer tutors in our program it is completely true,” said Williams. “It would be wonderful to be able to find a tutor for each one of these students.”
Williams said that volunteers will be trained to work one-on-one with adult students who would like to learn how to read and write in a way that will allow them to achieve their individual goals. Students and tutors will meet in a public setting for three hours a week for a span of at least six months. Training, materials and ongoing support will be provided.
“You don’t have to be a teacher to be able to do this,” said Williams. “You just need to be able to read at a high school level so you can help your student get to that level too.”
Volunteers should also be patient and highly motivated by a desire to help another person, according to Williams, who said that tutors will not only be teaching their adult learner how to read and write, but will also be mentoring them in other aspects of their life.
Among the significant impacts the Adult Literacy program has had on its students, Williams said that some students went on to earn a high school diploma, driver’s license or job promotion. Other adult learners were thrilled just with the ability to help their children or grandchildren with school work.
Formerly known as the Stanislaus Literacy Center, LearningQuest is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education to adults for a better tomorrow. Free or low-cost instruction is provided by a combination of staff and more than 250 volunteers. The Adult Literacy program has been a staple at the organization since its inception in 1987, and that the tutoring service has helped over 100 adult learners each year.
“There is nobody else in the County that provides this education at this level, so this is the only resource that adults have that is free of charge and gives them a chance to learn how to read,” said Williams. “It’s critical.”
Volunteers interested in becoming a tutor for LearningQuest are encouraged to attend the new tutor orientation at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 21, and the new tutor training from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 23. Both sessions will take place at the LearningQuest building, 1032 11th St. in Modesto. To register, call 558-4505.