Reading is more than fundamental; it’s a foundation anyone needs for all of his or her life.
A new school year also means a new appeal by the Horry County Literacy Council to the public for volunteers to train as tutors to help individuals of all ages teach and improve basic reading skills with services provided for free.
30 the percentage of Horry County residents who are functionally illiterate
For everyone interested in taking part, the literacy council will have monthly orientations, 3-4 p.m. on the third Wednesday monthly (Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21) at the Goodwill Job Link Center, 2148 Oakheart Road, Carolina Forest.
Lorraine Woodward, the literacy council’s new executive director and based at its office in the Myrtle Beach Family Learning Center, 3101 Oak St., cited such data as 30 percent of the Horry County populace, among 27 million adults nationwide, being “functionally illiterate,” who read at or below a fifth-grade level, and cannot read a newspaper or prescription, or share aloud a bedtime story to their children. They also might not have finished high school.
The literacy council, which operates year round, also promotes two other programs – English as a Second Language, and specialized assistance for individuals preparing for a U.S. citizenship test.
Each tutor receives training and materials for free, before they’re matched up with a client.
30 tutors with the Horry County Literacy Council
50-80 the number of clients the council serves
Question | How is turnout for volunteers to help reach out in the community to share in building something we take way too much for granted, reading?
Answer | Let’s say it’s improved, but we always need volunteers and tutors. As the new school year starts up, the need will be even greater. We just like to keep a running list of people who might want to help.
Q. | How does the process for training a tutor work?
A. | It depends; we have basic literacy through the Laubach Way to Reading Series. That training is about a day long, but we also offer dyslexia remediation, with the Barton Reading and Spelling System program, and that is much longer; that training takes about four weeks or so per book, and it’s a series of eight books – eight lessons.
Q. | For helping someone hone reading skills, what is the level of commitment needed?
A. | It’s about two hours a week, for six months or more, for the reading and dyslexia assistance programs. What typically happens is the tutors end up developing relationships with these clients in their efforts to help them improve in their reading. ... It’s a huge commitment on the part of the tutors.
Q. | How vast are the backgrounds of these people who volunteer their time to help someone learn a skill on which no price can be made?
A. | The majority of our tutors are retired teachers, and people who have retired from all over, and they have this passion. They are extremely passionate about their efforts.
Q. | What other rewards result from these partnerships that are a nice fit?
A. | You understand a child who might be struggling, but when you have adult clients, who are in the late 50s or early 60s, or older, they might be dealing with total embarrassment about that, and their self-worth isn’t very high. It’s important to them to take that brave step to come in to get help, and the way our tutors engage with them, it gives them a whole different perspective on life. It is truly inspiring. ...
We have one tutor, who not only tutors a young man throughout the school year; this summer, he has been working with him four days a week. Those are the kind of people who find that’s what they want to do. We have another tutor, who not only volunteers with our organization, but is involved with Freedom Readers (843-331-8526 or www.freedomreaders.org), so it’s like a full-time equivalent job now; you can just tell she takes such personal satisfaction from helping others.
Q. | How many tutors make up the literacy council’s team, serving how many people wanting to improve their reading abilities?
A. | We have about 30 tutors, and 10 going through the training right now, and 50 to 80 clients.
Q. | What other partners in the community help people who want help hook up with the literacy council?
A. | We have relationships with Horry County Schools, with adult education, for people trying to get their GED and people who might need help in reading. A Father’s Place, and some of the homeless shelters, have referred people to us. We get referrals from all over, and officials at schools will say to a parent who asks, “Where do I get extra help for my child?” to contact us. We get referrals from social service agencies, too. ... We receive funding partially from United Way, our main partner and advocate, and it’s accredited by Pro Literacy, a national organization.
Q. | How long has the literacy council had a second spot, in Carolina Forest, to get out farther to serve the community?
A. | About June 1, we were able to open there. We’re finding that we have a need for tutors for people out in the Conway area. ... All of our tutors work in public places, mostly libraries.
Q. | When did reading register with you as something fun and important in your life?
A. | My parents would take my family to the library every week. My dad would read the newspaper and magazines, and we would spend hours picking out books.
Q. | Are any certain age groups showing the most need for tutors for basic reading skills?
A. | We go from first- and second-graders all the way to the mid- to late 60s. It truly runs the gamut.
Q. | Is another annual murder mystery dinner fundraiser in the works?
A. | It will be at 6 pm. Jan. 30, again at Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort in Myrtle Beach, in partnership with WPDE-TV 15 and South State Bank. This year, one of the minor characters will be Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes, so we are very excited about that. He has been a big supporter of literacy programs.
Q. | How does reading remain a routine in your everyday life?
A. | I’m a retired journalist; I used to work for WBTW-TV 13. Reading and writing scripts was always part of my life in broadcast television. I’ve always been an avid reader, and I’m a member of a book club, with the selection of the month. I love anything that has to do with reading. Learning about literacy has been right up my alley. ... Also, September is National Literacy Month.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.
If you go
What: Orientation for potential volunteer reading tutors
By: Horry County Literacy Council
When: 3-4 p.m. third Wednesday monthly (Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21)
Where: Goodwill Job Link Center, 2148 Oakheart Road, Carolina Forest
Register: Call 843-839-1695
Home base: Horry County Literacy Council, in Myrtle Beach Family Learning Center, 3101 Oak St., open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays
▪ Continuing “Book Nook” sale, with hardcovers $1 each or 6 for $5, and paperbacks 25 cente each or 5 for $1.
▪ 10th annual murder mystery dinner benefit – with cast including members of WPDE-TV 15 and Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes – 6 p.m. Jan. 30 at Sea Mist Oceanfront Resort Conference Center, 304 12th Ave. S., Myrtle Beach, for $40.