Literacy program expands horizons

PAWLEYS ISLAND—Community outreach is an important service that members of Precious Blood of Christ Church women’s club perform.

One of the efforts initiated by Sue Cross and Suzanne Harris is to serve as volunteers at an adult literacy program.

“We started in June with 14 tutors,” Cross said at a Pee Dee Deanery meeting of the S.C. Council of Catholic Women. “We now have 24 tutors working with adult students in five classes” at Howard Adult Education Center in Georgetown.

Four of the classes meet in the daytime while English as a Second Language is at night. Both men and women volunteer for one-on-one weekly sessions with some of the 400 students.

Cross and Harris gave the tutoring program a trial run for a year and then brought it to the church.

Some of the students are as young as 16, while others are 60 or older. They come to classes for personal improvement, or to help them get a better job.

Aaron Collins, 22, lives in the North Santee community near Charleston County.

“I get to know the tutors very well. We talk about how to do some work that my teacher gives me,” he explained. “I read the story to my tutor and answer questions on paper.”

Donna Gamble, 54, lives between Georgetown and Andrews. This is the fourth time she’s taken classes in adult education, and has stuck with it for more than a year now.

“I just want to do it for me. I’m the only child of my mom’s that didn’t graduate. I just want to further my career, and get a better job,” Gamble said.

“I work with Mr. Jim and Ms. Karen (Coyne). They volunteer with the math instructor, Mrs. Eleta Ervin,” she continued. “They really do have a knack in explaining things and showing you how to remember it.”

“Words cannot express how much I appreciate you all and what you do,” Ervin wrote in an e-mail to a group of math volunteers. “Y’all are truly sending up enough timber to build mansions in heaven (smile)!!”

Macon Warren is a guidance counselor at Howard, and works closely with Cross and Harris.

“I don’t know how we could do what we do without the volunteer tutors. We only have two full-time teachers, and we have 400 students,” Warren said. “The instructors prepare individually for each student, so by having the tutors it’s like having an extra set of hands.”

“I believe research shows when faith-based organizations get involved with schools, things improve and we are definitely seeing that happen,” Warren said.

“A lot of the students come from broken situations, and adult education can give them a fresh start.

“It’s a good thing,” she continued. “We are so thankful for the tutors. It’s a blessing.”