Literacy Volunteers of Bangor gear up for tutor training, seeking new recruits

Literacy Volunteers of Bangor
Literacy Volunteers of Bangor(WABI)
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 5:20 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Literacy Volunteers of Bangor are preparing for their tutor training sessions starting on Tuesday, Sept. 19, and are looking for new tutors.

The organization is located on the Eastern Maine Community College campus and pairs tutors with adults one-on-one to increase skills in reading, writing, speaking, and more.

Literacy Volunteers helps people of all levels, whether it be English as a second language, low literacy or illiteracy, or assistance with school and work assignments.

“Literacy is a foundational skill. I mean, everything in our society is based off your ability to navigate written texts and be able to communicate with those around you,” explains Executive Director Mary Marin Taylor of the need for the program. “For all those reasons we can help one person at a time really make our community stronger.”

Taylor estimates about 20% of Mainers to have low literacy, with many others having a junior high level of reading and writing. She also emphasizes the emotional toll it can have, saying it can be “humbling” to ask for literacy help as an adult.

Doug Ferguson has been tutoring with Literacy Volunteers for a year and a half. A retired teacher, Ferguson saw news coverage about the organization needing tutors and knew he had to help.

Since joining, Ferguson has been tutoring an Iraqi-American woman named Hanan. They work one-on-one in learning English, as well as math, history, and more as she works toward her HiSET, an alternative to a high school diploma.

Not only have they formed a close bond as friends, Ferguson says the relationship is mutually beneficial as he brushes up on his math and history knowledge while tutoring Hanan.

“You don’t have to be an educator, you just have to be a person who is willing to listen and is a people person and you want to help, and anyone can be a tutor who has those skills, I believe,” says Ferguson about the necessary skills of a tutor.

Taylor emphasizes that tutors do not need to be educators. The only hardline requirements are having a high school diploma or equivalent and being age 18 or older. Otherwise, all they are looking for are those willing to learn, have a passion for helping others, and a positive attitude.

If you are interested in tutoring, or finding a tutor, visit Literacy Volunteers of Bangor’s website or call them at (207) 947-8451.