Almanac

News - December 8, 2010

Holiday Fund: Project Read-Menlo Park changes lives through literacy

Submitted by Roberta Roth, literacy outreach specialist for Project Read-Menlo Park.

"I couldn't imagine that an angel would come into my life. Learning English by the help of Project Read and my tutor has transformed my life." These words were spoken by Cleire Neves, a student with Project Read-Menlo Park, at our "Taste Desserts for Literacy" event in September.

Cleire started working with her tutor Jessi four years ago, and the experience, she says, has greatly improved her speaking as well as reading skills.

Before her work with Project Read, she says, it was embarrassing to go shopping, go to the bank, or do other simple things.

"Now it is different," she says. "I have confidence and I can express myself and understand what they say to me. I can go to a job interview by myself. I work as a babysitter and I can take the two kids that I take care of to the dentist, classes, a haircut, simple everyday things that I'm able to accomplish with pride."

In addition to her one-to-one weekly tutoring sessions, Cleire has taken advantage of opportunities for leadership development and civic engagement.

"Project Read has given me many opportunities to improve my English. One example is the chance to graduate from the Adult Learners Leadership Institute. At the Institute, I practiced how to be more confident to speak in front of a group.

"Before the Institute, I wasn't able to speak in front of a group. And now I am here in front of you, maybe not without mistakes, but I am here."

As a Project Read learner, she has had opportunities to volunteer at Connoisseurs' Marketplace, wrapping gifts at Kepler's, at the firefighters' open house, and at the Project Read fundraiser, "making new friends, making my life happier, and improving my English," she says.

Since 1985, Project Read has served the Menlo Park community with a free volunteer-driven, library-based literacy program that enables adults and families to improve their basic reading and writing skills. Since its inception, Project Read has helped more than 3,000 adults and trained over 1,400 volunteers.

Project Read-Menlo Park recently established a nonprofit arm, Project Read-Menlo Park Literacy Partners, to increase our funding base and ensure sustainable funding for the future.

Individuals and groups can get involved with Project Read in a variety of ways: become a one-to-one tutor, volunteer in our Computer Lab, host an outreach presentation, refer your employees who want to improve their English skills, and volunteer for special events.

Our next tutor training begins Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, and runs from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Training is also available via videotape and DVD. We hope to offer online training in 2011. No prior tutoring experience is necessary, and we supply all the materials.

Visit projectreadmenlopark.org for more information. Project Read-Menlo Park is located at the Menlo Park Library, 800 Alma St., Menlo Park, CA 94025.

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