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Literacy Council seeks volunteer tutors

training planned for in March

February 28, 2013|By AMY DULEBOHN | amyc@herald-mail.com

Christy Mundey had many struggles in her life.

The Silver Spring, Md., native was told many years ago that she read on a fourth-grade level, and could do math on a fifth-grade level. She had depression and a learning disability, both of which went undiagnosed for years.

But these days, things are looking up.

The 57-year-old Hagerstown resident is honing her reading and math skills, thanks to the Literacy Council of Washington County, and her volunteer tutor, Brenda Horsch. The pair has met for about an hour nearly every week since May 2012, and on Tuesday, Horsch presented Mundey with a certificate for completing her first book.

Mundey said she turned to the Literacy Council after talking with a woman at Turning Point of Washington County, where Mundey regularly attends programs.

"I wanted to better myself. I didn't think I could better myself. I always put myself down. I always told myself I couldn't do things," she said. 

Mundey also loves to knit, and said she wanted to improve her reading skills so she could read the instructions for new knitting patterns. She and Horsch agreed that Mundey has, in fact, improved in her ability to read the direction sheets since she has been tutored.

Before moving to Washington County, Mundey said she lived in Frederick, Md., for several years. It was there that she began getting assistance from the Way Station in part for dealing with depression.

"Turning Point and the Way Station have been the best thing (for me)," she said. "I wish I had known about them (a long time ago)."

Despite relying on a cane or walker to get around, Mundey said she has aspirations of seeking employment.

"I want to get a job but it's hard when you (couldn't) read the application," she said.

As she prepares to begin her next book, Mundey said, "I feel pretty good. I feel proud of myself," for competing her first book and getting recognition.

A new volunteer training session will be Saturdays, March 9 and 16, at the Literacy Council's headquarters at Trinity Lutheran Church, 15 Randolph Ave., in downtown Hagerstown. Registration deadline is Thursday, March  7.

Horsch, who has been volunteering with the Literacy Council for about two years, said Mundey is the third student she has worked with, and has enjoyed working with each of them. She said she has a particular bond with Mundey because they are near the same age.

"We have similar frames of reference," she said.

Horsch said she had a particular interest in volunteering, and once she had the time to devote to an agency, she chose the Literacy Council because of her own interest in reading.

"I always loved reading and academics came easy to me in school," she said. "I've always enjoyed the pleasure of reading."

As for potential volunteers, Horsch said she would recommend anyone interested in the Literacy Council "to try to go to at least one day of training and get a feel for what (the program) is like," She cautioned that volunteering does take a time commitment, between going through two full days of training and working regularly with students. She said, though, that the council's volunteer coordinators, are easy to work with and will facilitate getting new volunteers matched up with students.

"We need more volunteers," she said.

Horsh's words were echoed by Brenda Vanover, office administrator at Literacy Council of Washington County.

"We always need volunteers. We always have a waiting list," she said, noting that she had calls from four potential students between Feb. 25 and 28.

Vanover said many potential literacy students have been let down at different times in their lives. She said it becomes frustrating for the staff and the students when they must be placed on a waiting list because of a lack of volunteers.

The Literacy Council offers reading, writing, grammar, spelling, pronunciation, math and GED help for adults. The council offers a program in Basic Lit, for low-level and non-readers and an ESL tutor for non-English speaking students.

Students stay in the program for as long as they want to.

"The student is done when they say they are done," Horsch said, noting that the length of participation in the program is based on the student's individual goals and circumstances.

If students must stop taking training, "they can always come back if they are able," Horsch said.

The program uses the Laubauch method of teaching, which includes a series of four workbooks that build on a student's skill level. After each book is completed, the students are awarded a certificate, actually called a diploma, like Mundey received earlier this week. If they complete the series, students are awarded a separate diploma, Vanover said.

As for Mundey's progress, Horsch said, "I see a lot of self-confidence and poise in her. She is very ambitious and very smart."

Mundey said she would recommend others who can't read well to give the program a try. "If you really want it, you have to go for it and keep going. At one time, I didn't think I could get this far. I think if my mother and grandmother could see me, they'd be proud of me, too," she said, her voice cracking with emotion.



If you go ...

What: Literacy Council of Washington County spring tutor workshops

WHEN: 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, March 9 and 16

WHERE: Trinity Lutheran Church, 15 Randolph Ave., downtown Hagerstown

COST: Training is free

CALL: 301-739-4208

MORE: Registration deadline is Thursday, March 7



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