Volunteers make a difference

Article image - Volunteers make a difference Rita Kenny, adult literacy tutor enjoys the rewards of volunteering.

A free training course run by Sunshine Coast Council provides volunteer tutors with the specialised skills needed to teach adult literacy.

Community Programs Portfolio Councillor Jenny McKay said for the last 27 years, Sunshine Coast Libraries have provided free literacy training to adults, with the dedicated assistance of trained volunteers. She said the Adult Literacy Program assisted a large number of adults in the community who have difficulty with every day, functional literacy.

“They include school leavers, parents, grandparents, workers, unemployed, and people with physical/intellectual disabilities, migrants and many others who, for a variety of reasons, may be prohibited from participating in activities that involve reading, writing, speaking, numeracy and basic digital literacy.

“The adult literacy staff assess the prospective learner’s needs, interests, skills and goals to enable successful matching with a volunteer tutor. The tutor then works on an individual program with the student, for approximately three hours a week, in a library or a community venue.

“Alternatively, students may join a weekly literacy class at Beerwah, Caloundra, Maroochydore or Kawana libraries and be supported by a tutor in the classroom. Some tutors also assist with our Conversation Circles.”

One volunteer who has been making a difference and reaping the rewards of tutoring since 2014 is Rita Kenny who retired in 2013 and was looking for something useful to do with her time.

Rita, a former primary school teacher, said one of the problems with retiring is sometimes not feeling as busy and useful as you have been.

“I took the adult literacy course in the first half of 2014 and began volunteering after I graduated at the end of that year.

“I work with people from non-English speaking backgrounds, both in conversation classes and one-on-one.

“Students enjoy coming to conversation classes to improve their communication in English, to learn about Australian customs and for social interaction.

“It is satisfying to know you are helping others using the expertise acquired from the training which is very thorough and undertaken by teachers who are experienced, enthusiastic and professional.

“Tutors receive ongoing support from the staff with students and programing lessons. Students, tutors and staff treat each other respectfully. I really enjoy being part of the program.