Retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Francis (right) volunteers through the Great Plains Literacy Council. He and Bi-lingual Facilitator Aleida Burchett review the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website frequently to be aware of current naturalization updates and resources for the adult learners that he tutors.
The Great Plains Literacy Council salutes their local volunteers during National Volunteer Week, April 15-21. Like many charitable causes, the adult literacy movement would come to a standstill without the generosity of many volunteer tutors in the literacy program who give freely of their time and talents to change lives of adult learners, one person at a time, with understanding and communicating the English language.
“Our volunteer tutors are especially giving of their time,” said Sharon Duffy, president of the Great Plains Literacy Council Board of Directors, “and the impact of these volunteers on the adult literacy movement reveals some impressive figures.”
During the past fiscal year alone, the library-based literacy programs with the Great Plains Literacy Council reported that 51 volunteers provided more than 2,400 hours of reading instruction to 109 adult learners, according to Elsa L. Garcia, Administrative Assistant for the Great Plains Literacy Council. The financial value of one volunteer hour of service in Oklahoma is $17.50, according to the Independent Sector.
“You can multiply the figures and see that the volunteer service is tremendous. If these tutors had been paid for their services, the value would surpass $42,000,” Mrs. Duffy said. “The Great Plains Literacy Council has been so appreciative and proud of our volunteer contribution of their time and talents in helping others. Our non-profit organization would not have the budget needed to pay these tutors.”
There could be 51 articles featuring the value of the local tutors in literacy. The following paragraphs are about one volunteer, but the message summarizes some of the compassion and support found of the Great Plains Literacy Council volunteers.
The word “retirement” is not in Retired Chief Master Sgt. Steve Francis’ vocabulary even though he “retired” from the United States Air Force in 1991 and from Civil Service at Altus Air Force Base in 2006.
But a new line of community volunteerism for Mr. Francis has been his working as a tutor for the Great Plains Literacy Council. In February 2007, he began teaching English as a Second Language for adult learners at the Altus Public Library. For three years he met weekly in sessions with persons wanting to be able to speak, write, and read English.
But then an opportunity to teach government and civics information for those wanting US citizenship came available through the literacy council! Some of his students have met at the base library and at the Altus Public Library. Presently he is teaching and coaching eight persons wanting their citizenship.
“I am very proud when one of the students passes the examination and completes the ceremony. It makes me feel that I have made a difference in their lives,” stated Mr. Francis. “I want them to know the process and study materials available before they ever start the questions. Aleida Burchett, the Bi-lingual Facilitator at the Great Plains Literacy Council, has helped me and my students learn about the expectations needed to reach their goals of citizenship.”
Another enjoyment for Mr. Francis has been his work with the Air Force Sergeants Association. In his spare time, reading is one of his favorite past times. He is a faithful patron at both libraries and can be found at either site reading a variety of books. His wife Paula says he still has time to do work around the house.
Volunteers like Mr. Francis and other tutors are busy people, and their contributions of time, money, and assistance are so valuable to this non-profit organization!