Blog

04 May 2017

READ Offers Much More than Words

My name is Cory Baumgardner, and I am new to the staff at READ Saskatoon.

Starting in my role as the Adult Program Coordinator, I was immediately struck by the staff’s dedication to supporting those who access the programs READ provides. Adult tutoring, family literacy, and financial literacy—each of these areas of READ Saskatoon are attended to with diligence, helping to provide a high quality experience for program participants.

As I began to settle in, I also began learning about literacy in our city and province. Like many people, I took my communication skills, both written and verbal, for granted. I was surprised to learn that a third of the provincial population struggles with literacy. I also learned that there are many reasons as to why one might struggle with literacy. Instability, trauma, displacement, and history are just a few examples.

Although some of READ Saskatoon’s learners have faced these barriers, there is so much more to the individuals who walk through our doors. The impact of learner’s stories is undeniable. As the Adult Program Coordinator, I do intakes with each of the learners, hearing the stories about what has inspired a learner to walk through the doors of READ Saskatoon, listening to their reasons for being there, learning about their aspirations, and talking about how our tutors, the life-blood of READ Saskatoon, can support them as they venture forward. I believe that strong literacy skills can positively impact one’s lived experience.

Our organization also works with many community members, approximately 3,500 people last year. The continued support of READ Saskatoon volunteers has demonstrated to me that our mission and vision resonate with the values of our local community. Through generous gifts of time and resources, those who support READ Saskatoon have helped to keep the programs alive for over 35 years, demonstrating the importance of the work that happens at READ.

A major component of READ Saskatoon is relationship building. Most tutor/learner pairs are comprised of people who have led very different lives, bringing into existence a relationship as unique as the two people who you might see sitting at a table in a library, working on developing literacy skills. Skill development, increased confidence, cross-cultural learning, and investment in the community—these are just a few of the outcomes I have witnessed while working at READ. Finally, at the close of each day, the people who work at READ Saskatoon, the programs READ Saskatoon offers, the volunteers who make the programs possible, and those who access the programs READ provides, makes the literacy skill development services READ offers much more than words.

Cory Baumgardner 
Adult Literacy Coordinator

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