Literacy council provides education tools

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Roosevelt County Literacy Council volunteer tutors offer a chance for people in the community to better themselves with an education.

The Literacy Council handles free pre-GED, adult literacy, English as a Second Language (ESL) and citizenship classes.

The Literacy Council is funded through donations by the Literacy Council Coalition and United Way. The program holds classes at the Portales Public Library during the week. Last year they helped 22 people through the program.

“We are all volunteers; none of us receive any kind of salary,” said Kathleen Donalson, treasurer for the Literacy Board of Directors. “I’ve been tutoring with the organization since October. I tutor the basic literacy right now for adults who come in with the basic to no literacy skills.”

Donalson joined the Literacy Council after the former president told her they were still looking for people to help with the board.

Romelia Hurtado De Vivas, Eastern New Mexico University associate professor of bilingual and multicultural education, has been an ESL tutor for two months, but her experience goes back much further.

“I’m an ESL student myself,” Hurtado said. “I did this at home in Venezuela for a long time, I’ve helped students at Venezuela University for 25 years. So, my experience has been with students who want to study the English language. It is a very important part of my life to help people.”

Hurtado said her father instilled in her and her siblings the desire to help people whenever they can.

She said one of the best parts of being a tutor is being able to instill in the student the need for English language proficiency because it will assure them of a future and a better life. Hurtado also likes the chance to encourage students by telling them the importance of learning the language where they live.

“This will help them indirectly, to be responsible to do right things and to help others whenever they can,” she said.

Hurtado has an ESL student who has been working very hard to learn English so she can help with her son’s education.

That ESL student, Teresa Lopez, has been in the United States for ten years and moved here from California with the rest of her family. Lopez has been in the program for four months, but she is learning and some things can still be a challenge for her to understand. Her sister Carolina Lopez translated the questions that were asked of her.

Lopez said she is going to the classes to better understand what her son’s teachers tell her in parent-teacher meetings and learn how to read and write English.

“I can understand some of the things they are telling me,” Lopez said.

The Literacy Council is also looking for more tutors.

“We have a couple of tutors who are full-time moms and they are homemakers,” Donalson said. “Most of us work outside of our homes and still go to the Literacy Council at night and on our days off and tutor there.”

Donalson said all eight members of the board help tutor students, run the board and raise money. They are “constantly doing everything we can to keep the doors open,” she said.

“I think if we had more tutors and got the word out, I think people would be willing to take that step toward getting the help they need,” Donalson said.