BANGOR – Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is looking for some new tutors because they have the longest waiting list of students they’ve had in years.
The local organization is looking for volunteer tutors that can help mentor adults trying to better their English reading and writing skills.
“The byproducts that a lot of us forget is how much confidence it can bring to an individual and how their view of the world changes because they feel like they’re fully participating in life,” said Mary Marin Lyon, the executive director of Literacy Volunteers of Bangor.
To be a tutor, volunteers just have to have a high school diploma and be able to attend training sessions at their Hogan Road office. Training sessions begin September 24th.
Tutors are paired with one student, so they can have personalized lessons.
Staff said they have about 50 people currently on their waiting list, and that people are usually nervous to ask for help.
“We want to be able to honor that courage as quickly as we can and when we have a waiting list, we get nervous,” said Lyon. “Because we know people are waiting and that they might lose their bravery.”
One man who has benefited from the program is sharing his story in hopes of inspiring more volunteers. Steven Scalese said Literacy Volunteers of Bangor helped him go from a fifth grade reading level to a twelfth grade reading level.
“I wanted to better myself,” said Steven Scalese of why he joined Literacy Volunteers of Bangor as a student. He now serves on their board of directors. “I was tired of working dead-end jobs all the time and my biggest thing is because of my children. I don’t want my children to struggle.”
Students and tutors typically meet once a week, wherever is easiest for the pair. Scalese said his weekly lessons at the library helped him get a better job.
“At first when I used to read, if I didn’t recognize a word I’d just skip over it,” said Scalese. “They showed me how to break the words down so that I could understand what I was reading.”
Literacy Volunteers of Bangor also helps those for whom English is not a first language. Volunteers don’t need teaching experience.
“If you’re patient, if you’re open-minded, if you’re flexible, if you love to coach, teach, or mentor – those are the characteristics we’re looking for in volunteers,” said Lyon.
If interested in training, potential volunteers are asked to give Literacy Volunteers of Bangor a call or sign up on their website.
They’re also looking for volunteers in Lincoln, Millinocket, Bar Harbor, and Ellsworth.