Basic education and literacy is one of Rotary’s 6 areas of focus. For most Rotarians in North America this is a non-issue; we have benefitted from public education systems and most are fortunate to have attained some level of post-secondary school education. However, there are many in our communities who are not so advantaged.
The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy strives to make literacy programs available to those who need them. Children are enchanted with the Family and Children Literacy Programs including Mother Goose, Love 2 Learn, One to One Reading and Stress Free Reading at Home. Adult Literacy programs include Adult Tutoring Programs, Books Everywhere, CBAL’S Settlement Program. Many seniors take advantage of the Computer Literacy for Seniors or “Cyber Seniors”, Cyber Seniors’ Lab Time, and IPad Fun. In Nelson the Learning Place, in the basement of City Hall is an inviting space for community partners to come together to offer literacy programs, provide service and have resources and information available to learners. It is staffed primarily by dedicated volunteers who work under the guidance of CBAL’s Joan Exley. She is one of 16 Literacy Outreach Coordinators serving 77 communities in the Columbia Basin area. On an annual basis, our club members have cleaned out their book shelves to contribute to the Books Everywhere program which makes loaner books available throughout town, be it at Nelson Family Eyecare, the Rec Centre or Oso Negro; it is an inviting way for people to simply pick up a book and start reading.
In keeping with the tradition started four years ago, members of our club including Dave Simpson, Al Inkster, Sandra England, Michael Dailly, Pat & John Dooley and Sheila Hart joined other community volunteers and manned street corners on October 7 to seek donations for a free copy of The Nelson Star. Black Press has generously supported the program by providing the newspapers, promotional advertising and free classified ad cards. This year, Raise a Reader Day was a glorious warm fall day. As soon as volunteers started to mention programs involved, the public stopped dead in their tracks and engaged in conversation. Joan Exley reported that $1245 was raised by volunteers on the streets. However, the giving does not end there – this year, tax-deductible donations made on-line until November 1 at www.cbal.org will be matched by the Bienfaisance Foundation – what a great way to double the impact and realize more resources for programs in Nelson. Visit www. cbal.org to learn more about local programs and volunteer opportunities.
Stay tuned to hear about the impact of the literacy flash-mob, coming soon to a venue near you; for more information about this secret event and to volunteer contact Joan Exley or Sheila Hart.