BANGOR – Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is celebrating fifty years of helping people better their reading and writing skills.
“That’s amazing to me, that it’s still going strong,” said Paula Adelman, one of the original volunteers for the organization.
The free one-on-one tutoring helps adults in the greater Bangor area improve their English proficiency.
The program got Adelman’s attention after she saw an advertisement telling the story of a mother who needed reading lessons.
Adelman said the ad talked about the woman, “giving her child who was sick some medication and she couldn’t read the bottle for the medication, and I thought here this mother could kill her child while she was trying to make her child better and I was hooked, if I can help one person I’m going to do this.”
Bangor’s branch was the first outside of New York, where Literacy Volunteers of America was founded.
Greater Bangor’s group was started by two women affiliated with churches.
“Both of them were retirement age, had been teachers, and recognized that there were people in our community who really struggled with reading,” said Mary Marin Lyon, the executive director for Literacy Volunteers of Bangor, “and they said we can solve this.”
When Adelman joined in 1969, the group operated out of Saint John’s Catholic Church, and then out of a room in the Bangor Public Library.
Adelman tutored for 26 years, helping one man get his driver’s license and another woman get her U.S. citizenship.
Now, Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is located off Hogan Road. And about 325 students still need their services.
“I think as long as you have children who grow up in chaotic home lives,” said Lyon, “you’re going to see them in adulthood.”
The group of ten that started with Adelman has now grown to about 300 volunteers.
And they’re looking for more tutors to start training March 12. Volunteers need to be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma.
“It’s the most rewarding thing they can ever do, the most rewarding thing,” said Adelman.