Written by: John DeRousie, Custom Marketing Solutions
OSWEGO, NY – Meg Henderson, coordinator of Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County surprised students in the program with autographed copies of David Benioff’s latest novel, City of Thieves.
A nationally known author, Benioff is also an accomplished Hollywood screen writer, having written screenplays for the movies, Stay, Troy, 25th Hour, and X-men Origins: Wolverine.
Additionally, Benioff is renown for his work as co-creator, executive producer, and screenplay writer for the wildly successful HBO series, Game of Thrones.
As part of SUNY Oswego’s Oswego Read Initiative, program designed to encourage college students to read over the summer, Benioff made an appearance at SUNY Oswego where he signed copies of his book, City of Thieves.
“It was a fortunate coincidence for us that Mr. Benioff was appearing at the SUNY Campus Center during our World Book Night celebration. We realize that his style of writing is very popular with many of our students and that his latest novel would be a perfect choice for them. We were very happy that Mr. Benioff graciously signed a number of his books for us,” Henderson said.
Henderson said that the autographed copies of Benioff’s City of Thieves books were distributed to tutors and students in the LVOC program.
While tutors used the books to assist their students, the students were allowed to keep their copies of the book for future reference.
“We received excellent feedback from both our tutors and the students, they enjoyed reading the book and students were thrilled that they had an autographed copy for themselves,” added Henderson.
Established in 1985 as a non-profit community–based educational organization, Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County has continuously provided quality tutoring in basic literacy skills and conversational English. LVOC has had a profound impact on the lives of hundreds of individuals and families who have improved their literacy skills thanks to the dedicated volunteers of LVOC.
“Improving literacy in Oswego County is a serious issue,” said Beth Kazel, director of Oswego County Opportunities’ Education Services. “Currently, 15% of all adults in Oswego County cannot read above a fifth grade level. They are unable to read things that many take for granted such as most books and magazines, medication instructions, and recipes. Additionally, with the growing use of computers and online information, those who cannot read or write are falling even farther behind. These individuals need the opportunity to gain the literacy skills necessary for daily activities. OCO provides them that opportunity through LVOC.”
LVOC, which boasts a volunteer staff of 42 tutors, is currently serving 52 students, an increase of more than 30% from just a year ago, with many more intakes scheduled for additional students.
Henderson credits the increase to the easier access that community members now have to the program.
“We started accepting applications at all of our teaching sites, which in addition to our offices in Oswego, includes public libraries in Oswego, Fulton, Mexico, Parish, Hannibal, Phoenix, Central Square and Brewerton. The librarians have been very helpful and have welcomed our students and us,” she said. “With teaching sites throughout the county it is much easier for community members to access our services without traveling long distances.”
To accommodate the increased number of students LVOC has added additional tutors.
“We greatly appreciate our volunteers tutors and are always willing to accept new volunteers. No previous experience is required to become a LVOC volunteer. The only requirements are that you must be 18 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, and be able to read at a 12th grade level. Our tutors receive a 12-hour training course and we provide ongoing support as we prepare the initial teaching plan for their students. Tutoring is done on a one-on-one basis and the tutors are matched with a student according to personalities, and preferred location and meeting times. Tutors then meet with their students for two hours every week in a public place, assigning homework or ‘extended learning’ assignments in between tutoring sessions,” said Henderson.
LVOC provides free, confidential services that include:
Basic Literacy: Students 16 and older are matched with a tutor who utilizes
LVOC resources to ensure that the student will be able to read at or above an 8th grade level. LVOC also offers help with writing and simple math skills.
English Literacy: Students 16 and older are matched with a tutor who will help them improve their English speaking, reading and writing skills along with some simple math skills.
Computer Literacy: Those already working with a LVOC tutor can be taught basic computer skills using computer stations in the LVOC office.
“The ability to read sufficiently is fundamental to the success of anything in life,” said Henderson. “Students in the LVOC program have come to us for a variety of reasons. For some the goal may be achieving employment, or obtaining the literacy skills to earn their GED. For others it’s being able to read for enjoyment or reading to their children. LVOC has been very successful in helping our students achieve their goals.”
Examples of that success are the achievements of Jennifer Ekstrand and David Loftus, students who began working with their tutors, Jackie Johnson LeBlanc and Bridgette Seguin less than a year ago.
“Jennifer, who is looking to increase her skills in reading comprehension, grammar and math, is currently journaling and working on writing her own novel.David, who also wanted to increase his reading comprehension and math skills, has increased his vocabulary greatly, gained employment, and is now looking to go on to earn his GED. These are just two of our many success stories. Having our students achieve their goals is a very rewarding experience not only for the student, but for their tutor, myself and our staff,” said Henderson.
For more information on accessing the services of Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, or becoming a volunteer, you may contact them at 315-342-8839, via email at [email protected], or visit their website at www.lvoswego.org
Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County, Inc. is a member agency of United Way of Greater Oswego County.