BUCKHANNON – Helping others is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding undertakings in life, and right now, one Buckhannon agency is asking folks to help them help others.
The Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County – whose work encompasses much more than just helping others learn to read – is looking for volunteers to help others in need.
The Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County offers assistance with computer skills, help completing job applications, assistance with the written portion of the West Virginia Drivers Test, financial and budgeting skills, and so much more.
Director Kristy Boggs Stewart said right now, the LVUC is looking for tutors.
“We need tutors mostly, and we are looking for volunteers who would help us sort our books to prepare for our book sales, which are our biggest fundraisers,” Stewart said. “Tutors are people who have a few hours a week to spend helping. They would sit down with an adult and help them with reading or math skills.”
Stewart said the group is also seeking a new computer tutor.
“Just to help do even a once-a-month class to teach basic computer operations,” she said. “We have parents, grandparents and great-grandparents who are wanting to keep up with kids and grandkids – they want to be able to send pictures and open pictures as well as send email and that kind of thing.”
Skills tutors should possess are patience and a passion for helping others. Stewart said tutors typically meet the clients at the LVUC office or at either the Upshur County Public Library, located in Tennerton, or the Charles W. Gibson located at 105 E. Main St. in Buckhannon.
Currently, the Literacy Volunteers are working with five students who are developing English as a second language.
“Most of these folks have degrees from their home countries and can read and write English very well. What they are looking for is help speaking – saying [words] properly and in the correct context is where they have their biggest issues.”
The mission of the Literacy Volunteers is to foster and promote literacy and life skills among adults in Upshur County who need assistance with reading, writing, math and English as a second language, according to Stewart.
The group was founded in 1985 when the Board of Education received a grant for adult education. They approached Carolyn Stotts and she started out as a tutor at the library.
Stewart explained Stotts was a member of Holy Rosary Catholic Church and informed the group that the house behind the church had become available, so the church donated that space to Stotts for tutoring and office space for the Literacy Volunteers.
Stewart said LVUC occupied that space until September 2018 when they moved into their new location at 88 W. Main St., located at the base of the entrance to WVU Medicine St. Joseph’s Hospital at the yield sign.
She has been with Literacy Volunteers for five years, serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA and a VISTA Leader and finally as the director.
“I actually started at the Literacy Volunteers through the WV Works Program,” Stewart said.
The Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County not only does tutoring, but also offers life skills training.
“I have had students who needed help making arrangements to pay medical and utility bills,” Stewart said. “We also serve as a sounding board for some of the students who are going through a tough time and just need somebody to talk to. Sometimes we don that hat. It’s more than just reading and math.”
Stewart said the Literacy Volunteers help sponsor budgeting workshops and said they often partner with the Opportunity House.
“They are the muscle behind literacy,” Stewart explained. “Matt Kerner is our board vice chair. If it were not for his crew and him, we could not have moved locations in the time we did. They helped us pack, move and do some minor repairs and painting for us. They are a great crew.”
Other partners include the Upshur County Family Resource Network and the Upshur Parish House.
Anyone interested in volunteering may contact the Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County by calling 304-472-2343. They also have a Facebook page and can be contacted online at www.upshurliteracy.com.
There is an application for volunteers on their website or those interested can call to set up an appointment.
The Literacy Volunteers of Upshur County are sponsoring a book sale on March 29 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and March 30 from 8 a.m. until noon at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church.