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How to become a literacy volunteer?

Literacy Volunteer's of Waldo County offers free training and resources for volunteers.

Click here for the calendar with dates and times for training sessions, classes and workshops.

Help adult learners with:

Other volunteer opportunities:

Here's What Our Literacy Volunteers Say: 

It was heart-wrenching to meet a man my own age who has spent his entire life without reading. Although he is very intelligent and runs his own successful business, he has lived with shame and secrecy about not being able to read. It has affected every aspect of his life. When he told me how badly he felt about not even being able to read to his own grandchildren, I wanted to do everything I could to help him become a reader. He's getting there and now he wonders how different his life would have been if he had been able to read all those years. That's my reward as a literacy volunteer.

—Bonnie Swiderek, Waldo County Literacy Volunteer

Having words at your fingertips that you can use is so important.  It’s comforting.  Like finding out the meaning of “nurture”.

Justin knew he had a word he wanted to talk about with his literacy teacher (me).  He remembered the word and then we talked about it.  He wondered if he could be good at it,  “nurturing.”  He said he knew men weren’t supposed to be good at it.  That moment with him of trying to think of the word was so powerful. He knew there was a word, that it began with “n”; we thought about it together and then he remembered.

 What’s on his mind is that he’s struggling with being a good parent, and he wanted to find a way to talk about it with me.  Next time we meet, we’ll look it up in the dictionary together and talk more about it.

The ability to communicate everywhere—at work, in your family —is so essential.  People often talk of it in terms of courage.  But it’s more complicated.  What if you don’t have the vocabulary you need,  to know which words you can use.  You can have all the courage, but if you don’t have the tools, it’s no good.

 “A literate community is a healthy community.”

—David Smith, Waldo County Literacy Volunteer

When I contacted the Literacy Program at Belfast Adult Ed, I thought my chances of tutoring were slim. As it turned out, there was a young woman who contacted the Literacy Program for help with her math skills. She had been home-schooled. Her evaluation revealed that her reading and writing skills were very good but her math skills were at  a 4th grade level.  At our first meeting, which also included her case worker and the Director of the Literacy Program, she sat at the table, looked at her hands, shrugged her shoulders a lot and spoke very little – and when she did it was in response to her case worker and was not much more than a whisper.  My immediate concern - how was I going to tutor someone when I’m not going to get any kind of feedback from her? It was one of the biggest challenges I had ever been presented with, but there was something I sensed about this young woman that inspired me to want to help her as much as I could. She helps me with my computer when I can’t get it to do what I need it to for our math sessions. We play math games and she wins as much as I do. She always smiles when she can help me! 

We also talk about things that aren’t math-related. I’ve told her a bit about my background – growing up in a large, very poor family that didn’t have much. I’ve shared some of my experiences in life – opportunities I’ve had that I never even dared dream about when I was her age – in hopes that it will start her thinking more positively about her own life.  

—Gail St. Clair,  Waldo County Literacy Volunteer

Literacy Volunteers could not run without the help of many volunteers. Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County was started in 1986. It is truly a grassroots effort with only one part-time paid employee. Find out more about our program coordinator. 

The mission of Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is to empower adult learners by increasing their literacy skills, improving opportunity through reading, and enhancing a culture of literacy within our community.

We strive to assist adult learners at all levels of need meet their literacy goals in reading, writing, computer use, or math.. Our volunteers contribute over 2,000 hours annually as tutors, trainers, advisors and with many related literacy promotion activities.

 Call 207-338-3197 or email