Literacy Volunteers hold annual picnic to recognize students and tutors

More than 80 people gathered at Breitbeck Park in Oswego Thursday, July 11 for Literacy Volunteers of Oswego County’s annual picnic and awards ceremony.

The evening began with Sarah Irland, deputy executive director of Oswego County Opportunities, welcoming all attendees. The picnic was an occasion for everyone to share their stories and have a good time.

“This event gives the organization an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of its outstanding students and tutors and to express appreciation to all of our supporters,” said Beth Kazel, education director of OCO. “The highlight of the evening was the enthusiasm of student Andrei Gunin and tutor Nancy DeGilormo whose speeches reminded us of what LVOC is all about.

“In the United States, the ability to read, write and speak in English are the most important skills needed in daily life, something many of us take for granted,” Kazel added. “Our students recognize the significance of these skills.”

This affair acknowledges the courage and determination of all of the students in pursuing the ability to read and the generosity of the volunteers for their time and dedication.

Over the past year, the program has grown serving almost triple the number of people compared to last year at this time.

From July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013 volunteers tutored over 2,600 hours.

“It was extremely difficult selecting our award recipients this year,” said Meg Henderson, LVOC Program coordinator. “The program has expanded. We serve both Basic Literacy Learners and English Language Learners. We have greatly increased the number of students we provide literacy services to including people residing in rural areas of Oswego County.

“Many students made progress and educational gains,” Henderson added. “All of our tutors and students worked very hard and accomplished numerous goals.  Besides improving their reading, math, computer or communication skills; many gained or retained employment, were promoted, became actively involved in their child’s literacy activities and education, entered a secondary education program, obtained a driver’s license, and much more.” Henderson noted, “All of our tutors are devoted to their students and rejoice in their progress. We have recruited many new tutors this year to meet our growing demand. It is through everyone’s hard work and dedication that we have accomplished so much this past year.

“Everyone here is driven by their love of literacy, need to help, and desire to learn,” she continued. “We continue to learn and aspire to improve throughout our lifetimes. I am proud of every one of our students and I am very grateful to all of our tutors. Our annual picnic is a good time to honor all of them (students and tutors).”

Awards were presented by Henderson and Kazel. Award winners were presented with a commendation from Senator Patty Ritchie and Assemblyman Will Barclay.

The Citizenship Award was given to student Cindy Jiang. Students recognized for completing the program were Mike Kemp and Yin Yin Sim-Fellows.

The top three BLL Students of the Year were Eric Lance, David Loftus, and Jennifer Pickard.  The top three ELL Students of the Year were Andrei Gunin, Jung Ha Lee, and Carlos Rodriguez.

The Spirit of Literacy recipients were students Steve Kirby, Patricia Mazzoli and Ndomba Tshiwabwa.

Tutors Vivian Anderson, Laurie Wood and Dianne Woods were given the Outstanding Dedication Award.

Tutors of the Year were awarded to Laura Bishop, Kathy Boutelle, and Bridgette Sequin.

Volunteers of the Year were tutors Nancy DeGilormo and Mary Stancampiano.

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