Tag Archives: Nashville Adult Literacy Council

Resolve to Serve Stories: Nashville Adult Literacy Council

Every day, Hands On Nashville’s community partners and volunteer community build stronger communities through service. HON celebrates these partners through Resolve to Serve Stories. We’re inspired by their work, their missions and their dedication – and invite you to get involved.

Imagine not being able to read. Imagine not being able to speak or understand the English language. Imagine not being able to fill out a job application or communicate with your doctor. Imagine never having a chance for a better job or job promotion. Imagine not being able to help your children with their homework or not being able to attend a parent-teacher conference. Imagine having to rely on someone to pay your bills for you because you can’t read them. Imagine the feeling of your children asking for a bedtime story, and you are unable to read to them.

Imagine yourself changing someone’s life.

Last year, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC) worked with hundreds of volunteers to help nearly 1,700 adults learn reading, writing, conversational skills and information about U.S. citizenship. Most of the agency’s volunteers do not come from a professional teaching background. Through NALC’s training, individuals become one-on-one tutors who help adults in Nashville become successful, thriving parts of the community.

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Julie Kramer, ELL Specialist at NALC, manages the one-on-one tutoring program for adult immigrants. She draws from her own personal experience as an example of what volunteering for NALC means.

“I worked in the corporate travel industry for 30 years, but wanted to find a meaningful volunteer opportunity that would directly benefit someone,” says Julie. “I never thought of myself as a teacher and never thought I’d be teaching anybody anything, but I decided to get outside of my comfort zone to help someone in the Nashville community. I was pretty unsure of myself in the beginning.”

Julie’s first student was a biology teacher from Egypt, who was working in hotel housekeeping at the time. As the student gained proficiency with his English skills, he became more confident and landed a job in a biology lab. Though Julie met with her student in Antioch, Julie lived in Bellevue and worked near Nashville International Airport.

One in eight Nashville adults is functionally illiterate, and 12 percent of Nashville’s population was born outside of the United States. With more than 100 people on NALC’s waiting list, the need for one-on-one tutors is great, especially in the Antioch and south Nashville areas of the city.

Julie says, “I felt like this was the most rewarding volunteer experience I had ever had, so much so that I decided to change careers to work with adult immigrants who were learning English. I knew I had found my calling right away.” Now, she manages the program.

It wasn’t just Julie’s calling. The entire Nashville Adult Literacy Council staff began their work as volunteer tutors, many after careers in completely different fields.

Consider stepping outside of your neighborhood and meeting someone you would never come in contact with in your everyday life. NALC has trained accountants, IT professionals, college students, FBI investigators, doctors, project managers, waiters, scientists, homemakers, and healthcare workers to help adults learn to read and improve English skills.

Over and over, volunteers state they get more out of the experience than the learners. Participants enjoy the experience while making a huge difference in someone’s life.

The Nashville Adult Literacy Council is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to teaching reading to U.S.-born adults and English skills to adult immigrants. The agency’s vision is for all to learn and for all to help build a community of adults empowered through literacy. Browse all volunteer opportunities with NALC and visit the agency’s website for upcoming volunteer training dates.

Nonprofit Partner Spotlight: NALC

november-issue-of-between-the-linesRemember that time you spelled “rhinoceros” wrong in the first grade? It was supposed to be your shining moment, a spelling bee stud kind-of-moment, yet you stood there with the blank stare, and showed everyone what you didn’t know. Imagine if everyday felt that way even though your spelling bee days were long past. The truth is, over 1,500 Nashville adults struggle with literacy, yet most of us don’t know it.

Thankfully, the Nashville Adult Literacy Council (NALC) has recognized the need for volunteer tutors to help teach reading to U.S.-born adults and guide adult immigrants in learning English skills. NALC serves over 1,500 adults annually, with the help of 500 volunteer tutors and 33 classes. NALC’s vision is for all to learn and for all to help build a community of adults empowered through literacy.

NalcJames Morehead, 2012 NALC Literacy Learner of the Year, comments, “When I was young, I always had a hard time reading and writing. I could not do things like make a grocery list. I had to draw pictures of the food when I went to the store. It was also hard to do things like fill out job applications to see if I could get a job. For a long time, I could not drive because I could not pass the driver’s test,” says James.

“Now, I can do things like write ‘Happy Birthday’ and read the newspaper. Most importantly, I can write a letter to my wife to show her how much I love her.”

James has the confidence he needs to flourish in the world today because of people like you who volunteer their time to teach him to read. The NALC would not exist if it weren’t for the people who share their knowledge, patience, and encouragement. Annually, over 500 volunteer tutors dedicate thousands of hours to teaching their fellow adults to read and write, and speak English. Volunteers from all backgrounds and occupations tutor with NALC. No teaching experience is necessary! If you can read, you can help.

Aside from volunteering with the Start Now Program and One-on-One Tutoring Program, creative and devoted volunteers help NALC with events, office work, speaking engagements and community outreach, teaching classes, and facilitating extra-curricular activities for learners.

The Nashville Adult Literacy Council holds volunteer trainings once or twice per month for both the Start Now and One-on-One Tutoring programs. Currently, there are 100 learners on NALC’s waiting list waiting for a one-on-one tutor.

One-on-One Tutoring Program
The One-on-One Tutoring Program is Nashville Adult Literacy Council’s primary mission. In this program, NALC matches one adult learner with one volunteer tutor based on schedule and location preference. Tutors are asked to commit to a minimum of six months with their learner, meeting between two and three hours per week.

Upcoming trainings for the One-on-One Tutoring Program are:
> Friday, January 11th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
> Saturday, January 26th, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Start Now Program
Due to NALC’s growth and success, immediate accommodation for every learner is difficult. In fact, it can take six months or longer for a learner to be matched with a volunteer tutor. The Start Now Program allows learners to get immediate service while waiting to be matched with a long-term volunteer tutor. It also allows volunteer tutors greater scheduling flexibility than the One-on-One Tutoring Program. Tutors sign up for hour-long appointments as often or as little as their schedule permits, and meet with a new learner each visit.

Upcoming Trainings for the Start Now Program are:
> Wednesday, January 30th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
> Tuesday, February 26th, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.

Monthly training dates are always listed on NALC’s website.

If you are interested in volunteering with the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, please email info@nashvilleliteracy.org or call 615-298-8060. For more information, visit the website at Nashvilleliteracy.org.