Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County celebrate their grant re-opening. Pictured, from left, are Joe Rogers, Jay Bryant, Ripley Cottrell, Bob Anderson, Jennifer Higham, Megan Payne, Anne Chopyak and Ginny Dixon. / Photo by Monica Zalaznik

Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County reopens and is now accepting students, volunteer tutors

BUCKHANNON – The Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County aims to assist the one in five people in Upshur County that are illiterate.

The LVUC officially reopened its doors Friday, Oct. 21, encouraging tutors and students to reach out and utilize their services. LVUC director Ripley Cottrell said this is a reset for the organization after COVID-19 halted services.

“I just got hired at the end of summer, I started in July and I’m also a full-time student at West Virginia Wesleyan College, so I started college in August, and it was just hectic getting everything up off the ground,” Cottrell said. “We had many drastic location changes when I stepped in, and we had a lot of our information lost during COVID, so now we’re starting from scratch.”

The grand opening event was designed to raise awareness around the community that they are looking for new tutors and students.

“It’s hard to get that information out and we want to make sure people are aware that we’re back open,” Cottrell said. “That’s what events like this are for, to get us to collectively group together and get on the same page because we haven’t had an opportunity to get our students and board members together at the same time.”

The LVUC group is planning several upcoming events for students and tutors.

“We are doing a boxing event for Operation Christmas Child, which is where we’re wrapping up boxes and sending them across seas; that’s going to be a tutor/student event to increase communication between all of us and social interaction,” Cottrell said. “Another thing that we’re doing is the book sale, which will be Nov. 10, 11 and 12 at Lorentz Church.”

Their main goal right now is to recruit volunteers to undergo the training to become a tutor.

“They need a 10-hour training and we recently got one of our board members trained to do the tutor trainings, so we don’t have to wait and get an outside source to do that, which has been a really large struggle for us right now,” Cottrell said.

She said she got involved with the LVUC because she recognizes the importance of literacy and realized illiteracy was a problem in Buckhannon.

“I’m a service scholar, I want to be a doctor but I was a librarian in high school and I worked a lot, especially with children, so I know how important it is to read and the importance of expanding that knowledge to everybody,” Cottrell said. “Buckhannon has a statistical issue with illiteracy because one in five people in Buckhannon are illiterate and that includes ages high school and up, so it’s just something that I wanted to tackle because I feel that reading is very necessary.”

Joe Rogers, the LVUC board president, said he has been involved with the organization since 1990 and has served as president since 1991.

“Our goal is to help people, adults, who for some reason have not been able to finish their education and are at a fairly basic level, so we try to bring them up to the level where they can then go to the Adult Learning Center and continue their education,” Rogers said.

He said even after retiring, his work with the LVUC has always been part of his life.

“The least complimentary reason I’ve been here so long would be habit, but it’s also interest,” Rogers said. “I’ve been in education all my life, so it’s just always been a part of my life and when I retired, I just stuck with this.”

Located at 88 W. Main St., Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County may be reached by emailing, calling 304-472-2343 or checking out their Facebook page.

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