LCNV’s Volunteer Service Model Inspires Beneficiaries to “Pay It Forward”

April 24, 2013 at 9:41 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

From its start 50 years ago, LCNV has grounded its work in the “each one, teach one” model of service. We advance our mission by training and supporting over 700 volunteers to educate our 1,500 adult learners annually. Learners represent 85 countries and speak 60 languages. They range in age from 18 to 98, and include native English speakers whom the education system, economy, or society has left behind, and immigrants who arrived here by choice or force and hope to make new lives for themselves.  What they all have in common is a commitment and desire to improve their English skills, which are below the fifth-grade level, and improve their lives. In honor of National Volunteer Week, we recognize and celebrate how LCNV’s model of service inspired three of our learners to become volunteers themselves.

Yonas Kebede

Yonas hails from Ethiopia and now lives in Alexandria. He met his volunteer tutor, John, a year ago. Yonas was so appreciative of his tutor and impressed that John wanted to teach him without pay. He asked his tutor how he could repay him. John told Yonas, “The best way to pay is to pay it forward [when you are] in a position to help others.” Yonas went back to Ethiopia for an extended visit and volunteered at a local church’s home for the elderly, “who have no one to care for them.” Yonas realized the poor conditions of the facility and wanted to do more to help his elders. He reached out to his American-based Ethiopian community and raised over $800 to support this home. He was able to buy provisions for the home including personal care products and food.

Linda, another LCNV student, came to Fairfax from Taiwan and spoke very little English. She appreciates the many people who helped her when she came to the U.S. and thanks her LCNV volunteer tutor, Julia, who helps her study English. “When I have time, I want to give back,” she says. And give back she does! For the last year, Linda has been going to D.C. every morning to serve breakfast to the homeless. She is also a volunteer with the Tzu Chi Foundation and has helped raise funds for victims of Hurricane Sandy, assisted clients with tax returns, and cooked at a senior citizen center.

Eddie and Whiskey_BAL

Last, but certainly not least, Eddie was born and raised in the U.S. He lives in a supportive facility in Arlington and has been working with his volunteer tutor, Deborah, for nearly two years. With her help, Eddie has gained strides in his ability to communicate his feelings verbally and in writing with confidence. He has seen his job opportunities expand: he was promoted from a part-time to full-time position at the Pentagon, and has gained additional part-time employment. Eddie recently got a pet cat, Whiskey, that he adores. On his own initiative, he explored opportunities to work with cats and is now pursuing a volunteer position at a local animal shelter.

It goes without saying that the Literacy Council cannot run its programs without the support and dedication of over 700 volunteers. These volunteer educators inspire us every day with their initiative, motivation, and commitment to helping others achieve their goals. Today, we recognize how they have inspired and supported the people they serve to pay it forward.

Ruba Marshood Afzal, Director of Volunteers
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Rd., Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

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