Volunteer Spotlight: Office Volunteers

April 30, 2014 at 10:36 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

LCNV is privileged to have the support of three excellent office volunteers who help out the staff with a variety of essential administrative work that directly supports the work that the Literacy Council staff and its instructors do for the students.  In honor of the recent National Volunteer Week, LCNV spotlights them.

Martin Smith, LCNV Office Volunteer

Martin Smith, LCNV Volunteer

Martin Smith has volunteered in the LCNV offices for a decade (since 2004), gracing the offices with his stylish hats, while helping out with data entry, filing and other key tasks.  He is a former Smithsonian Institution Librarian who worked for several library branches including the Air and Space Museum Library and the Wolbach Library, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) Library. He learned about LCNV on VolunteerMatch, and the office volunteer opportunity was a good fit for his background.  He found, “It’s a pleasant, great group of people to work alongside….and I’m a creature of habit—I keep very steady hours on the same day every week.”

 

 

Lynn Gallagher, LCNV Volunteer

Lynn Gallagher, LCNV Volunteer

Lynn Gallagher worked on the Agricultural Committee for the House of Representatives for 25 years.  Upon her retirement, she volunteered with the Literacy Council along with a few other organizations.  She started out as a Basic Adult Literacy tutor in 2007, tutoring for six years before stopping last year. When she learned about the need for LCNV office volunteers in, 2009,  she realized that she missed being part of an office setting and signed up to help out in that capacity too.  With so many choices of where to volunteer her time, Lynn enjoys volunteering at LCNV because as she says, “It’s such a pleasant place to be because of the people here. “  As an office volunteer, Lynn helps enter tutor quarterly reports and prepare for upcoming trainings.  She also found that entering the tutoring reports actually gave her good ideas for techniques and resources, especially books that might help her own student.

 

 

Sheila Frost, LCNV Volunteer

Sheila Frost, LCNV Volunteer

Sheila Frost recently started volunteering at LCNV in 2013, specifically helping Director of Volunteers, Ruba Marshood Afzal, with key administrative tasks and she also put on her community outreach hat and represented LCNV at the 2013 Gifts That Give Hope Charity Fair. She was formerly trained as a volunteer tutor with the Literacy Council of Montgomery County.  However, she didn’t stay long as a tutor because her husband’s work in the Foreign Service moved them abroad, mostly with assignments in Africa but with one post in Bolivia.  “It was good to see firsthand how other people live but also hard to see and not be able to help,” said Sheila.  “At LCNV, I feel like I’m providing a real service to help the staff, and everyone here is so pleasant and welcoming.  It’s a very nice place to volunteer,” summarized Sheila.

“Our office volunteers brighten up the place and add to Literacy Council being a fun and welcoming place to work. They are essential – as a small non-profit, their dedicated hard work helps us do our jobs and to ensure that our learners are getting the best service. More than that, they are a source of inspiration for all of us on staff. Martin says he has stayed with the LCNV from “habit”, but the caring, attention, and support he and all our office volunteers provide makes all of us want to do our jobs better – for them and for our mission,” added Ruba Marshood Afzal, Director of Volunteers.

Want more information about the variety of volunteer opportunities at LCNV? Please contact Director of Volunteers, Ruba Marshood Afzal, at volunteers@lcnv.org or call 703-237-0866 x111.

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

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Volunteer Spotlight: LCNV Librarians

April 14, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Posted in Volunteers | Leave a comment
L to R: Fay Menacker, Mary McClelland, Ruba M. Afzal, Julie Bettenberger, Carol Smith

L to R: Fay Menacker, Mary McClelland, Ruba M. Afzal (center, Director of Volunteers), Julie Bettenberg, Carol Smith

Friends Mary McClelland and Fay Menacker are celebrating their first year of service as LCNV volunteer librarians.  They call their weekly volunteer day a “3-L Day: Library, lunch and Literacy Council.”  Mary had learned about the opportunity through the LCNV Newsletter, Literacy Lines. Mary says, “I retired early and it sounded like a great opportunity to fulfill my dream of being in a teaching and reading environment and what better place than the LCNV library.  It’s important to plan your life after retirement, because otherwise, time flies by and you’ll wonder where it’s gone and wish that you had accomplished more.” When she spoke to Ruba Marshood Afzal, Director of Volunteers, Mary says, “Who wouldn’t want to come to volunteer at LCNV after talking to Ruba?  After a few minutes on the phone, it was like I’d known her forever.  Oftentimes, it’s the person answering the phone who can make or break whether a person wants to participate in an organization.  Ruba makes the decision easy.”

Fay’s interest in LCNV’s mission derived in part from her background.  She was a language major with grandparents who immigrated to the U.S. from Eastern Europe in the 1920s and spoke fluent Russian at home.  “My grandparents spoke English but it was heavily accented, so I have first-hand knowledge of the struggles of many of our ESOL learners, and how critical having the opportunity to learn English is to them in terms of having a future for themselves and their families,” said Fay.

Fast forward post-conversation with Ruba, Mary and Fay signed up to train as volunteer librarians.  When they met long-time volunteer librarians, Julie Bettenberg and Carol Smith, Mary said, “Again, it was like old home week, just like finding really good friends.”  Both friends credit the training, generosity and kindness of Julie and Carol as a huge reason for their continuing to volunteer at LCNV.  “The people really need the service that this library provides and everyone is so appreciative of our efforts.  You just don’t get a lot of that in life,” said Mary.

Julie Bettenberg, whose past teaching credentials included certification in school librarianship, has been volunteering with LCNV since 1997, but had a 5-year gap in service when she moved out of the area in 2005; she returned to LCNV in 2010.  She said, “A librarian at a school where I was working first interested me in LCNV as a possible volunteer opportunity.  But, as I became involved, it‘s been the spirit of this wonderful group of people committed to helping adult learners that keeps me coming back.  I know without a doubt that the work that I’m doing to support the mission of the Literacy Council to help adults learn to speak, read and write English is worthwhile and meaningful.”

Among other endeavors during Julie’s 13 years of volunteer service, she and several other volunteers stewarded the library through two moves, when the Council had to relocate during the renovation of the James Lee Community building. At the time of renovation, the library had grown in size from small beginnings in different locations to probably half or more of its present size in holdings; library volunteers had organized the collection under a classification system and established routines for lending materials.  “The shelves that we had were in pitiful condition,” recalled Julie, “but good enough to make library materials accessible.”  Executive Director Patti Donnelly recounted how Julie and several other volunteers packed and moved every single book and all of the resources for the library (not once but twice):  “I had so much to worry about when we relocated LCNV to temporary quarters at Bailey’s Crossroads. Basically, I had just started the job as Executive Director and LCNV had to be completely moved out of James Lee in 26 days.  But when it came to the library, I didn’t have to worry about anything.” Patti also tapped Julie for feedback on the floorplan for the current LCNV library at James Lee Community center.  Julie said, “It was so great to be part of building the LCNV library as you see it today. For Patti to take the time to understand how important a resource it is for our community and to create a home for the library is remarkable.  It’s a specialized collection of instructional materials, that offers resources for adults in the Literacy Council’s Basic and ESOL programs who are working to improve their English language skills. Basic language texts, colorful picture dictionaries with CDs, pronunciation and grammar books, texts focused on workplace skills and study materials to prepare for citizenship are among the library’s most popular items, along with fiction and nonfiction readers written for adults reading at different levels. Tutors and teachers can find materials for their students designed to reinforce or enrich basic instruction, or perhaps provide ideas for alternative approaches.”

Carol Smith started with LCNV as a tutor 25 years ago, before Julie’s time and after working as a foreign language teacher in her other life. She had a long gap in service from 1990 to 2009, when she returned as a volunteer librarian.  She can recall when the tutors had no resources at all, “Basically, you were on your own because there was no library.  Now, I think that putting the contents of the library online in a usable, searchable manner has also been another huge evolution to help our users. I have also seen the evolution of the Northern Virginia community; it’s so much more diverse now.  I recommend so many more neighbors to take English classes through LCNV.”  Carol admires LCNV’s ability to adapt to the needs of its learners over the years and looks forward to the next phase.  Like her colleagues, she keeps coming back because of the warm, welcoming people at LCNV, especially Natalie Espinoza, Executive Assistant.  “Natalie is that first face to greet you at the door or to take your call on the phone.  She will go out of her way to help. She embodies the warm, caring and welcoming aspect of the LCNV community and we’re lucky to have her,” says Carol.

Above all, the importance of LCNV’s mission to serve adult learners keeps the volunteer librarians serving.  LCNV regularly involves the librarians as evaluators for LCNV’s Annual Recognition Event Student Essay Contest.  “Reading those essays,” says Fay, “is incredibly moving.  Hearing first-hand what the adult learners are contending with in their lives as they strive to learn English and empower themselves.” Julie said, “The courage and grit of LCNV’s students is remarkable.”  “I admire them immensely,” said Mary.  A key value at LCNV is to respect one another, especially the learners, which is palpable with this group.

LCNV can’t thank the volunteer librarians enough for their years of extraordinary service.  They have carried on work started by earlier volunteers to develop and maintain an invaluable resource, the LCNV library, for instructors to help courageous learners to empower themselves while weathering life without adequate language and literacy skills.  They have also managed to do it while building lasting friendships in the LCNV community.

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Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

LCNV ESOL Classroom Student Essay

April 8, 2014 at 2:53 PM | Posted in Class, ESOL, Student Stories | Leave a comment
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One ESOL Classroom teacher kindly shared one student’s essay (with approval and with the teacher’s corrections).  The mission of the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia is to teach adults the basic skills of reading, writing, speaking, and understanding English in order to empower them to participate more fully and confidently in their communities. LCNV students are beginning English language learners who read at or below a sixth grade level.

This student essay serves as a great reminder of why LCNV is here to serve its learners. (Click on each page below to enlarge it.)

Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042
www.lcnv.org

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Get Connected: LCNV’s Spring 2014 Newsletter

April 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Posted in News, Student Stories, Volunteers | Leave a comment

You’re invited! Please RSVP.

Annual Recognition 2014 invitation image

LCNV’s Literacy Lines│Spring 2014 Newsletter is online now!

Prefer to receive by email? Sign up here.

Online version

PDF version

In this issue:

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