Thursday, April 9, 2009

Dogwood Literacy Council Open House

Looming thunderclouds did not deter the Dogwood Literacy Council from hosting their open house this evening. When I arrived at the corner of East Central and Broadway, Randy Torres from Arvest Bank was outside serving up king-sized hot dogs. Upon entering the council's cozy interior, I saw some familiar faces- Paul & Lois Kimball, Molly Torres, and Robin Orcutt. I also met Lucy McLane, a volunteer tutor, who gave me some information about the Literacy Council and the role it performs in our community. Their mission is to provide free instruction in speaking, reading, and writing to adults who wish to learn English or improve their literacy skills. They have a need for volunteers who are willing to tutor two to three hours per week. Volunteers do not have to know Spanish, and the DLC provides training.

I spoke with Bob Bethke, a tutor who teaches four Spanish-speaking men two evenings a week at the center. Christine Agrew, an English Education major from John Brown University, is a tutor to six Spanish-speaking adult students two evenings per week. She said that is has been "one of the best experiences." Four of her students are sisters, and the other two are brothers, and their ages range from the mid-20's to 40's. There are also one-on-one tutoring opportunities available.

Before leaving, I spoke with the DLC's affable Executive Director, John Marter. Upon my mentioning his distinctive accent, he said that he was from "the South"- South Africa, that is. He and his wife have lived all over the world, and have been in Siloam Springs for the past three years. He told me that since July 2008, the DLC has served 143 students. 12% of those are ABE (Adult Basic Education) students and 88% are ESL (English as a Second Language) students.

Everyone at the Dogwood Literacy Council was very friendly and welcoming, and it seems like a wonderful place for a person looking to volunteer their time and really impact others in a positive way. For more information, you can reach them at 524-4009, or

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