Angela Dutcher, Executive Director of the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, was the guest speaker at our November 1st meeting. Ms. Dutcher has spoken at our club before and our club is a long-time supporter of her organization. She began her presentation by announcing that the Literacy Volunteers has embarked on a program to work with Ideal Snacks, a major employer in our area, to improve the literacy levels of their employees. The Literacy Volunteers is willing to work with any employer who wants assistance with tutoring ESL employees.

The Literacy Volunteers also has a program that helps Monticello High School student dropouts earn their GEDs. The graduation rate of Monticello high school is only 77%. Being a high school dropout is no guarantee of failure. Ms. Dutcher herself was a high school dropout, but she went and got her GED and then went on to college to get her degree.

The Literacy Volunteers works very closely with B.O.C.E.S. They are often called upon to help tutor B.O.C.E.S. students who are having difficulty with reading.

Most shocking is the continued high rate of illiteracy in Sullivan County and more specifically in the village of Monticello. The link between illiteracy and continued poverty is clear. Ms. Dutcher read a series of statistics that supported her statements. The median income for per capita in Sullivan County from 2010 – 2014 was approximately $25,000. In the village of Monticello is was $18,000.

The coming of the Casino to our area highlights the need to have a more literate workforce and people capable of being trained to do the jobs that will be available. Ms. Dutcher fears that many people in our area won't be qualified enough to get the jobs due to poor reading skills and a lack of education. She cited a similar circumstance that occurred when Walmart first came to our area.

The bottom line is that the Literacy Volunteers is a volunteer organization that wants to help people who want to learn to read in order to better themselves and create opportunities for a better life. The problem is... They desperately need volunteer tutors to help with their programs. Ms. Dutcher said that she could hold GED and ESL classes every day of the week, but she doesn't have enough volunteer tutors. Tutors are needed one to two days a week for 2 hours, to tutor a student. Tutor training is much easier now because the training is done online at the Literacy New York website, at your own convenience... and it's free.

During the discussion/Q & A period of the presentation president John Greenbaum suggested that perhaps senior citizens with time on their hands could be a source of tutors. Ms. Dutcher agreed and thanked him for the suggestion.

If you know anyone willing to become a tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, please contact Ms. Dutcher at 845 -794-0017.. Please help.