Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen

When Ellen was 15, part of her job as the lead library page for the children’s section at Beauchamp Public Library was to unlock the doors for a group of adults who spent their day at the library. When she asked her manager what they were doing, she was told they were teaching themselves to read.

That is when Ellen decided she would someday help adults like them.

In 2021, newly retired, Ellen contacted LiteracyCNY to volunteer, and was disappointed to learn that the organization had shut down. She was surprised, however, to get a response from a staff member at Literacy Rochester. In January 2022, as LiteracyCNY was preparing to re-launch, she began training as a volunteer tutor, and was among the first to be matched with a student that spring.

Ellen’s first student turned out to be a short-term engagement. She was soon matched with Eve, a returning LiteracyCNY student. Eve was born in Liberia and immigrated to the United States at ten years old, becoming a US citizen ten years later in 2015. Eve’s goal is to improve her literacy skills and become even more independent, not relying on others to read things for her. Ellen and Eve meet regularly at a library near Eve’s home. She works full-time (and often overtime) with an irregular schedule but is vigilant about scheduling two to three hours with Ellen each week.

Eve and Ellen have made progress. Ellen makes vocabulary cards and word search puzzles, and they have completed their first Journey to Success workbook. Eve’s success has helped her build self-confidence, and she proudly wrote her name inside the dictionary Ellen gifted her.

Ellen hopes for Eve to see strong role models, as her own parents were to her and her five siblings. They both benefit from the relationship, achieving their own goals as they work together.

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