Volunteers Needed

August 23, 2015 at 8:22 PM | Posted in Volunteers | 1 Comment

LCNV is so grateful to our dedicated corps of volunteers to help us advance our mission. Whether you are an active volunteer or still on the fence about whether or not to volunteer with us, please read on to learn about more ways to get involved.

Outreach Volunteers:
We are looking for volunteers to contribute to our student, volunteer, and public relations efforts. Outreach volunteer options include:

  • Manning an LCNV table at various events, such as at festivals sponsored by community centers and Back to School Resource Fairs.
  • Posting flyers for volunteer/student recruitment and for general promotion at targeted locations, including libraries, supermarkets, and community centers.
  • Representing LCNV as a speaker at various donor or volunteer outreach activities. Examples include:
    • LCNV Volunteer Orientation, where you would talk about your volunteer experience, and maybe even bring a learner you work with along;
    • Foreign Service Institute Job Search program Volunteer Fair;
    • RSVP volunteer meet & greet where prospective volunteers meet with representatives of service organizations.

For our student recruitment efforts in particular, we would like to have volunteers who are interested in using their skills with other languages, in order to ease communication between prospective students and the LCNV representative.

Current volunteers interested in serving in this capacity are asked to please contact Ruba Afzal and indicate the opportunities that appeal to you. If you are not yet a volunteer, please attend one of our upcoming Volunteer Orientations to get started.

Join LCNV’s Instructor Training Team:
If you have experience delivering instruction or training, and credentials in education, please consider joining the LCNV volunteer Training Team. This collaborative group of professionals trains LCNV volunteers to be teachers, class aides, and tutors for our learners. Interested individuals should be available a few Saturdays a year to participate in group training sessions and attend meetings. If you are a current volunteer and would like to find out more, please contact Carole Bausell. Otherwise, please attend one of our upcoming Volunteer Orientations to get started.


National Volunteer Week 2015: Merged Tutor Training

April 16, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Posted in Training, Volunteers | Comments Off on National Volunteer Week 2015: Merged Tutor Training
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In honor of National Volunteer Week (April 12-18), we’d like to thank all of you, LCNV volunteers, for the incredible 34,000 hours of service you provide every year to help advance LCNV’s mission!

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This March, LCNV held our first merged Tutor Training. We want to give a shout out to our volunteer training team for their hard work, as always, and for helping make this happen. Merging what were once two distinct tutor trainings into one makes it easier for LCNV to deliver the training our new volunteers need to tutor any student on our wait list. This was a huge effort that we could not have accomplished without the dedication and hard work of our volunteer trainers.

See more background information on the merged training

A Good Match

April 6, 2015 at 10:29 AM | Posted in Student Stories, Tutoring, Volunteers | 1 Comment
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Student Laura and tutor Paula

Student Laura and tutor Paula

The first thing I notice about Laura every week is her sparkling eyes and infectious smile. No matter what challenges she has faced since our last meeting, Laura never misses a tutoring lesson. I think of our time together – mostly in the small meeting room at Westover Library in Arlington – as her “clean, well-lighted place,” a place where Laura can sit down, open up her Laubach book and focus on the week’s lesson.

Since we began meeting in 2012, first at a Falls Church library that is temporarily closed for renovation, I have seen Laura gain confidence in herself and an improvement in her reading level. She is currently looking for a second part-time job. The main challenges in finding one are her current job schedule at a major grocery chain and the time she spends caring for her aging father. However, no matter what trials come her way, Laura never gives up. It is a joy to know her and see her every week. Not only is she an eager student, Laura has become my friend.

Written by Paula Cruickshank, LCNV Tutor

Get Connected: LCNV’s Fall 2014 Newsletter

November 3, 2014 at 3:16 PM | Posted in News, Volunteers | Comments Off on Get Connected: LCNV’s Fall 2014 Newsletter

Halt Buzas & Powell Employess support LCNV at Acumen Solutions 6th Annual Race for a Cause: (from left) Nisa Shamsieva, Isabel Gastulo, Resat Mursaloglu, Michelle Hall-Norvell (LCNV staff), Marco Fernandez, Kristin Siebeneicher, Carol Mount, Thuy Nguyen and Tamer Abofreka

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

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PDF version
In the pdf version, some articles may be abridged or omitted due to space limitations.

In this issue:

LCNV Volunteer Shares How Her Membership with RSVP-NoVA Benefits LCNV Too

October 28, 2014 at 2:30 PM | Posted in Volunteers | Comments Off on LCNV Volunteer Shares How Her Membership with RSVP-NoVA Benefits LCNV Too


I encourage LCNV Volunteers who are 55 or older to consider becoming part of RSVP-Northern Virginia. As background, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is one of three under the Senior Corps, which along with AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America fall under the purview of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

RSVP connects volunteers with programs in the community. I don’t remember where I first heard of it, however, I found opportunities in Austin, Dallas, and now in Northern VA through RSVP. The staffs in all three locations have been wonderfully helpful.

One of the benefits of joining is the additional insurance coverage as well as mileage reimbursement of up to $20 per month, depending on the area/city. RSVP-Northern VA offers both benefits. In Austin, several of us followed the example set by a long-time RSVP tutor. We donated our gas money to the literacy center. We either turned the money over directly, purchased reference books for our class and then donated them to the library, or bought books listed on the center’s wish list. I intend to do the same here. To make that donation go even farther, volunteers can purchase books from LCNV’s AmazonSmiles wish list and the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate a share of the purchase to the charity of their choice, e.g. Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

Information on RSVP can be found at www.RSVPNOVA.org or by contacting Courtney Kurzweil at 703-403-5360or ckurzweil@volunteerfairfax.org.

Kris Levenhagen, Volunteer ESOL Tutor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

Editor’s Note:  This is the last week for LCNV’s participation in ACT for Alexandria’s Fall Into Giving online donation campaign.  Purchase books and office supplies from LCNV’s Amazon.com wish list to help out LCNV’s classroom and tutoring programs, with the added benefit of AmazonSmile Foundation donating a share of all eligible purchases.  The campaign ends this week on Friday, October 31, but LCNV’s Amazon.com wish list will stay up and the AmazonSmile Foundation donations run year-round.  Find out more about Fall Into Giving here http://bit.ly/1yHWiyN or go directly to LCNV’s Amazon Wish List and start shopping at http://amzn.to/1t05n3s.

Volunteer Teacher Spotlight: Tom Smith

October 21, 2014 at 9:30 AM | Posted in Volunteers | 1 Comment
Tom Smith, long-time Volunteer Teacher at Crestwood Evening Program

Tom Smith, long-time Volunteer Teacher at Crestwood Evening Program

Staff at the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia serves our learners mostly from behind the scenes. In the classroom, we rely on our volunteer instructors to work with them from registration to graduation. Many of our volunteers continue serving at the same class site for many years. One such volunteer was Tom Smith. He put in more than a decade and 1200 hours of service teaching students at our Crestwood evening class.

He retired from his volunteering with us in May 2013. Before he concluded his teaching duties, I asked him to share some thoughts about his experience with LCNV.


Xavier: Why did you decide to volunteer with LCNV?

Tom: I had been teaching with Fairfax County Adult Education, but I liked the fact that the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia charged less and offered more flexibility in terms of class location and focus.

X: Why did you continue to volunteer with LCNV for over 10 years?

T: Teaching ESL is very rewarding. Seeing how much effort students put into learning English and how pleased and proud they are when they make advances kept me coming back. Sometimes I was less than enthused about preparing a lesson, but once I was in the classroom the students always re-energized me.

X: How did you share your experiences and skills outside the classroom, like your work at Mount Vernon, with learners in the classroom?

T: I usually offered a lesson on U.S. history, whether the syllabus called for it or not. I rationalized my teaching some basic history by telling the students that they’ll probably hear people talking about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, the Civil War, etc. And they won’t be left out of the conversation if they’re familiar with those people and events.

X: What are some thoughts you would like to share with new or prospective LCNV volunteers?

When I started, I hadn’t had any training as a teacher, but I figured my efforts would do no harm. So I never felt apprehensive about being with the students. I think they could tell I was enjoying myself and that helped put them at ease so they could enjoy the experience, too.

X: What are some thoughts you would like to share with LCNV?

T: LCNV establishes a welcoming and supportive atmosphere for both teachers and students. The Council’s work has earned a good reputation, so I’m proud to tell people I worked with LCNV.


But, as we say, no one ever really leaves LCNV. They just work with us from different places and in different ways. Such has been the case with Tom. He has returned to the Crestwood site as a substitute teacher several times since then.

Tom, thank you for your years of service. We look forward to calling on you to sub again very soon!

Xavier Munoz, AmeriCorps Classroom Instructor
Literacy Council of Northern Virginia
2855 Annandale Road
Falls Church, VA 22042

Get Connected: LCNV’s Summer 2014 Newsletter

August 15, 2014 at 3:22 PM | Posted in News, Student Stories, Volunteers | Comments Off on Get Connected: LCNV’s Summer 2014 Newsletter

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

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PDF version
In the pdf version, some articles may be abridged or omitted due to space limitations.

In this issue:

Special Guest Speaker at LCNV’s Annual Recognition Event on June 19

June 13, 2014 at 4:10 PM | Posted in Annual Meeting, Volunteers | Comments Off on Special Guest Speaker at LCNV’s Annual Recognition Event on June 19

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Volunteer Spotlight: LCNV Librarians

April 14, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Posted in Volunteers | Comments Off on Volunteer Spotlight: LCNV Librarians
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

Get Connected: LCNV’s Spring 2014 Newsletter

April 2, 2014 at 4:11 PM | Posted in News, Student Stories, Volunteers | Comments Off on Get Connected: LCNV’s Spring 2014 Newsletter

You’re invited! Please RSVP.

Annual Recognition 2014 invitation image

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

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In this issue:

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