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Literacy Council of Kingsport, Kiwanis recognize volunteers

Dawn Blake • Nov 25, 2019 at 4:30 PM

The Literacy Council of Kingsport partnered with the Kiwanis Club of Kingsport to recognize volunteers for their commitment to literacy at the annual Literacy Legacy Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Dinner on Nov. 7 at The Press Room in Kingsport.

Kiwanis International focuses on serving children of the world with projects that support children in a manner that will positively impact their lives. The Kiwanis Club of Kingsport was chartered in 1924 and celebrates over 90 years of service in Kingsport. In 2001, the Kiwanis Club of Kingsport began the Kiwanis Reading Program to encourage reading in several Kingsport elementary schools.

The single greatest indicator of a child’s future success is the literacy level of the parents. More than 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, do math and use technology above a third-grade level. According to ProLiteracy, children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading level themselves.

Kingsport Mayor Patrick Shull proclaimed Thursday, Nov. 7, 2019, as Volunteer Literacy Recognition Day in Kingsport and encouraged all individuals and families to advocate for reading in the younger generations so they will have a greater chance of future success.

The Literacy Council of Kingsport is honored to recognize volunteers whose commitment to literacy is invaluable. In 2018, our volunteer adult tutors provided 8,529 tutoring hours to help adult students improve their literacy skills in order to become more self-sufficient and achieve individual goals. Our volunteer children tutors provided 1,296 tutoring hours to help identified children improve basic word recognition, fluency and comprehension skills. In total, our volunteers provided an estimated value of $249,849 of program services.

The annual Literacy Legacy Volunteer Recognition and Appreciation Dinner honors three longtime literacy advocates and their families with the following memorial awards: Betty Andersen Memorial Outstanding Tutor awards, “Spirit of Barbara Goodlett” award, and the “Student of the Year” award.

The Betty Andersen Memorial Outstanding Tutor awards were presented to Rod Barnett and Mike Graham. This prestigious award is presented to two volunteers in memory of longtime Literacy Council supporter, volunteer tutor and past president Betty Andersen.

Barnett has been an adult tutor since 2017. He has provided over 154 tutoring hours working with his student to improve his literacy and job skills. His student improved his reading level from first to third grade. His student reports that he is a better reader and enjoys reading to himself and to his family. His student said his classes at Literacy Council helped him reach his goals and that Barnett “helped me get a good job and a better future. I have a career doing what I love — horticulture, planting and gardening. I am confident in myself and I know I can do this. I am grateful for my tutor because he really cares. He wants me to reach my goals.”

Graham has been an adult tutor since 2008. He has provided over 159 tutoring hours working with his students to improve their literacy skills and life skills. His students report that they are more engaged in their community, more involved in their children’s education and are more confident in their ability to communicate in English. One of his student states that they are, “very thankful for my tutor’s help and patience. When I first moved to Kingsport, I couldn’t understand English and I had to have family or friends translate for me. Now, I am confident in my myself. I can speak and understand lots of people. I can take care of my family and myself.”

The event also marked the awarding of the “Spirit of Barbara Goodlett” award to two recipients. Goodlett, who passed away in 2013, served Kingsport as a longtime educator, school board member, author and community ambassador as well as past president of the Literacy Council. The Literacy Council also received a $10,000 donation from Wilson Goodlett, given in honor and memory of his late wife, Barbara, whose contribution to the Literacy Council is invaluable.

Karen Cassell and Literacy Council supporters Brad and Leigh Anne W. Hoover received the “Spirit of Barbara Goodlett” award. Cassell has been a ProLiteracy certified trainer for the past 15 years and has served as a board member for the past three years and as the chairman of the training committee. She is instrumental in training our new volunteer tutors and is our go-to person for information and community resources. The Hoovers have supported the Literacy Council since 2005 through event sponsors for the Savvy SCRABBLE Social, author event fundraisers and Trivia Night fundraisers. Leigh Anne Hoover served as a board member, past president and is currently an adult basic tutor for the Literacy Council of Kingsport. She is a distinguished author, journalist, speaker and teacher. The Hoovers are also literacy advocates within the greater Kingsport community. We greatly appreciate their commitment to Literacy Council.

The recipients of the “Student of the Year” awards are Ana Orozco and Song Phillips. The prestigious award is presented to students who have demonstrated outstanding success and achievement. Both Orozco and Phillips worked very hard to obtain their citizenship. In order to become a U.S. citizen, applicants must demonstrate the ability to read, write and speak English as well as demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government by passing an English language and civics test. For the past year and a half, they attended three-hour Saturday classes held at the Kingsport Public Library to prepare for the test. In June 2019, Orozco and Phillips passed the citizenship test! We are so honored to present them with the 2019 Student of the Year Award for their dedication and commitment in their pursuit of obtaining their U.S. Citizenship.

The Literacy Council of Kingsport is a member agency of the United Way of Greater Kingsport and an affiliate of ProLiteracy. A 501(c)(3) organization, the agency provides tutoring for adults and qualified children to improve their literacy skills as well as achieve their individual goals and to be an advocate for literacy in the community. Call (423) 392-4643 or visit www.literacycouncilofkingsport.org.