National Volunteer Appreciation Week is held every April in order to honor volunteers throughout the United States for the selfless service they provide to their communities. According to Hedy Miller, the Volunteer Program Coordinator at the English Skills Learning Center, “Volunteers are a bridge between communities.”
Our mission at the English Skills Learning Center is to integrate and strengthen communities by breaking language and cultural barriers. Using language learning we help New Americans integrate into the U.S. and into their local communities. The social connections made between students and volunteers in the classroom is vital in this process of integration. “We ask for a minimum of 100 hours of service, but we regularly have volunteers who surpass that expectation”, says Katie Donoviel, ESLC Executive Director. “The classroom dynamics in adult education classrooms are always a little bit different than in other settings because the students and the volunteers both don’t have an obligation to be there. They are there because they want to be there. You can see that in our volunteers, the time and dedication that they give is truly outstanding.”
In the 2020 Fiscal Year for the English Skills Learning Center (July 2019-June 2020), volunteers spent 4,716 hours with students. Outstanding, indeed!
Each year the English Skills Learning Center presents the Jean and Bruce Bingham Literacy Legacy Award to a volunteer who has shown extraordinary commitment to students in the classroom. Due to the pandemic, in April 2020 we did not hold our usual ceremony to honor volunteers. With it still being unsafe to hold an event like we have done in the past, we still wanted to honor our volunteers. To that aim, we are announcing both the 2020 and the 2021 winners of the Literacy Legacy Award at the same time.
Christina Balls and Heather Oswald are team teachers that have been active in our DI English Language Instruction for some time. They share the Literacy Legacy Award for the year 2020. Please watch this video to learn more about them and the special magic that they bring into the classroom.
Our 2021 awardee is Lei Rachelle Child, who has served over 1000 hours in the Empowering Parents Program alone. She has also volunteered extensively with the Humanitarian Center Program. Please see the attached video to learn more about her contribution to our students.
Thank you to all of our volunteers! You are a crucial part of the work that the ESLC does. “The connections that you make with our students in the classroom are the core of our mission” says Katie Donoviel. “Thank you to all of the English Skills Learning Center volunteers for truly making this space feel like home for students.”
More about the Jean and Bruce Bingham Literacy Legacy Award:
In 2013, the English Skills Learning Center (ESLC) established an annual award to recognize an outstanding volunteer who has gone above and beyond expectations. The recipients of this first award were Jean and Bruce Bingham. Jean was a long-time tutor and office support volunteer in the early years of the ESLC, and Bruce served on the Board of Directors for many years. After receiving this award, Jean and Bruce made the decision to sponsor the award each year as a way to stay connected with the organization and continue supporting the volunteers who make our work possible. Their generosity led the ESLC to name the award the “Jean and Bruce Bingham Literacy Legacy Award.” We are honored to have the continued support of Jean and Bruce, who are well-known in the community for their philanthropic efforts, as supporters of the English Skills Learning Center.