16 Jan 2019

You Can Make a Difference

Mary sits by the radio listening to CFQC. She hears Denny Carr tell Saskatoon residents that 10% of the population in Saskatoon is illiterate. She can’t image what that would feel like and is compelled to help. The year is 1988. Mary Rodych is READ Saskatoon’s longest active volunteer. She has worked with countless adult learners, helping them realize their potential and reach their learning goals. 

She recalls many stories of the people, and their families. For three years she coached a woman with a husband and teenage daughter. Her daughter would often join them at their meetings. Mary not only worked with the mother, but the whole family to accomplish their goals. After several months of studying together, she helped the daughter gain a volunteer role at the hospital to get some work experience. A couple of years later, she helped her apply for a position with the library, the same place they had been studying together for years. Three years into their tutoring sessions, the husband called Mary looking for help with his resume.

One year, she was matched with a man who had just immigrated from Iran but had to leave his girl friend back home. They met to study just before Christmas and he wanted to do something special for her. Mary helped him get the words to Blue Christmas, so he could sing it to his girl friend on Christmas morning.

While volunteering, Mary had a lot going on at home, too. With five children, people couldn’t believe she was able to volunteer so much of her time. She recalls that in past years many people have thought about volunteering but say they just don’t have the time anymore. Her response is always, “people have to want to do it.”

Mary believes volunteering is mutually beneficial. One of Mary’s most memorable moments is when a learner called her exclaiming, “Mary, I can read, I can read!” She had picked up a brochure that day and was able to read the words. Something that sounds so simple to so many was life-changing for her. Most of Mary’s learners are learning English as an additional language and she has fond memories discussing idioms like “bite the bullet” or “break the ice.” This would often lead to many moments of laughter.    

Mary acknowledges the good work that READ Saskatoon does in the community and wants people to know that “you can make a difference.”  

READ Saskatoon’s adult literacy program provides one-on-one tutoring services for those wanting to increase their literacy skills. For more information call 306-652-5448 or visit

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