Tutors and students honored at Love of Literacy Luncheon

VERO BEACH — Literacy Services, which is dedicated to reducing literacy in Indian River County, hosted its Love of Literacy Luncheon at the Bent Pine Country Club.  The annual luncheon provides an opportunity to honor the students who have overcome great obstacles to accomplish their goals, the dedicated volunteers who have tutored them along the way, and the sponsors who have helped make their dreams a reality. At this year’s luncheon, Board President Bob Bond and Executive Director Mary Silva presented the Nat Jackson Award, the organization’s highest award, to Toby Mann for her long-term advocacy and support.  Both Toby and her husband Bill have volunteered as tutors for the past 12 years and continually work to recruit additional volunteers.

The English as a Second Language Award was presented to Enrique Marino, who obtained political asylum in this country after fleeing with his wife and daughter from their native Columbia.  Ari Donahue and Penny King were his tutors.  Although he spoke no English when he first arrived, Marino now has a full-time job at Publix, a part-time evening job at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Department, continues to improve at his tutoring sessions and plans to take the United States citizenship exam this year.

Literacy Student of the Year was presented to De’Elle Jones; her tutors were Heather Sultzman and Dan Bryant.  Jones overcame limited ready skills through the program, advancing several reading levels and obtaining a GED.  She is now committed to changing the cycle of poor reading skills in her family; improving those of her 7 year-old and having that child assist in teaching her two year-old how to read.

In absentia, the Outstanding Business/Entity Support Award was presented to the Oceanside Rotary Club for their efforts in helping to make the Love of Literacy Author Series a success and the Barbara Levere Outstanding Service Award was given to Elaine Jones for her help in garnering support for this year’s Author Series.

Additional recognition was given to Dottie Holmstrom who tutored more than 200 hours, the most reported this year, and to Toby Mann, Anne Tschinkel, Alice Donars, Carol and Russ Robinson and Marianne Mannino, who are all active tutors with five or more years of service.

Students Adrian Clark and his tutor Carmen Vozzella, and Anna Reich and her tutor Hedda D’Andrea were also recognized for their improved skills.

The featured guest speaker at the luncheon was Kent Annan, co-founder of Haiti Partners and author of the book, Following Jesus Through the Eye of the Needle.  The book chronicles his experiences traveling and working in Haiti, where he and co-director John Engle are working to improve educational opportunities.  More than half of Haitian children never go to school, and many schools that did exist were destroyed during the recent earthquake, so the challenges are great.

Annan remains optimistic saying, “Education is the key to investing in the future.  With education, democracy becomes possible. If people can read, they can hold their leaders accountable and can break the cycle of poverty.”

Mary Silva stressed the importance of education in this country as well saying, “The future is at risk.  Children of parents with poor literacy skills are three times more likely to also have poor literacy skills.  Literacy Services is giving hope in a changing world, one page, one book, one life at a time.”

Literacy Services provides free one-on-one confidential tutoring to adults and high school students and aids foreign-born students in learning the English language.  All tutors are volunteers and free training workshops for perspective volunteers are offered.  www.literacyservicesirc.org. {igallery 172}

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