Can You Read This?

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Can you read this?

Remember the thrill you felt when you first opened a book and read it all by yourself?

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Sue Maher, left, and Nancy Althoff discuss the types of books they like while perusing the tables filled with paperbacks and hardback books at the Rim Country Literacy open air book sale in the Wal-Mart parking lot.

That thrill is just one of the things volunteers at Rim Country Literacy help bestow on children and adults.

During one Early Literacy session, retired kindergarten teacher, June Schranz read a story to a group of pre-school children.

In the book "Mrs. Wishy Washy," her farm animals say, "Oh lovely mud!" as they jump into a puddle. In the other room, the children's mothers discussed reading activities they could do at home.

Later, the children met volunteer Richard Falkenberg's llamas and got to take the book he and his wife wrote about llamas home.

Alice Natale goes out to schools and tells stories and reads to elementary and Head Start and the library.

When Maria Cohen felt she needed to im-prove her English skills in pursuit of her dream to teach children, it was RCLP volunteers who helped her master that second language.

"I am so grateful to the literacy program for providing me all those tutors who were so kind to me. I don't think I would have made it without them," Cohen said.

Frank Brooks is one of the volunteers who helps to balance the math side of the literacy equation.

Brooks tutors teens and adults as part of the GED program.

Volunteer input throughout the past 14 years has lead to the addition of classes in:

  • citizenship
  • early and family learning
  • financial, medical and employment literacy

Because the RCLP volunteer pool and board is made up of a "diverse group of community leaders and Rim Country residents" who are also involved in other community service groups, they have been able to offer ideas based on community needs they hear of from other agencies where they volunteer and from requests by churches.

"Our volunteers have been instrumental in fund-raising ideas and implementation of Spelling/Trivia Bees, Zane Gray book raffle and, the fashion show / luncheons," director Su Connell said.

Those fund-raisers are important as materials costs range between $25 and $100 per student.

In 2008, the book sale is Oct. 18 and the Spelling Bee is Aug. 23.

Supplies and annual software upgrades cost in the neighborhood of an additional $10,000 or more per year.

"Volunteers have been great advocates of linkages between RCLP and other non-profits we offer our assistance and co-operation to -- Time Out, Head Start, Payson Library, Payson Institute of Learning and Center for Success, to mention just a few," Connell said.

RCLP offers training to all volunteers, the tools to work with, space to teach in, plus laughter, fun and lots of camaraderie.

The time commitment is recommended to be at least 4 hours a week.

"We work with volunteer schedules, holidays and vacations," Connell said.

Schranz loves the people she has volunteered with since she started in 2003.

"They are talented, knowledgeable people who are good communicators. They have become good friends too," she said.

Rim Country Literacy Program

Founded: 1994

Officers: Su Connell, director

Mission: To change lives through literacy.

Contact information: Rim Country Literacy is located in the Rim Country Health and Retirement Community (east complex) at 807 W. Longhorn Rd., C14, Payson. Phone is (928) 468-7257. They are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an hour break for lunch at beginning at Noon. Friday hours are 9 a.m. to Noon.

Web site: http://literacy.inpayson.com/

Donations: Tax deductible donations can be made by contacting Peggy Malechea at (928) 468-7257.

Contributions to community: Volunteer tutors are trained to provide instruction in Adult Basic Education, Early Literacy Program, English as a Second Language classes, Family Literacy Program and, GED Tutoring.

Fund-raisers: Annual Community Spelling Bee, Annual Used Book Sale, Books Are Fun, Summer Cool-Off Tea

Volunteer names: RCLP has approximately 60 volunteers including board and seasonal assistance.

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