Investing in the Process

Perhaps the word literacy on the receipt caught her eye.  After I explained to the clerk that my work is to help churches help persons with literacy needs, she said, “My husband can’t read.” I offered help. Thus began a two-and-a-half year journey through the Laubach Way to Reading.

I had been a promoter. A trainer. A minister encouraging churches to help people with literacy needs. Now I was challenged with the opportunity to slow down the travel and invest in the process.  My territory was merely the states west of the Mississippi River and Western Canada. Could I commit to meeting with an adult student once or twice a week? Could I trade breadth for depth?

My student was a disabled sixty-two year old who often took phone messages at home for his wife. But take them was all he did. He couldn’t write them. And he couldn’t read his Bible or the newspaper. But he was willing to try. And so was I.

“This is a bird with a long tail and a round body. This looks like a bird with a long tail and a round body. Say ‘B.’” Slowly we progressed through the consonants, then the vowels. I was amazed that an adult would really be interested in the stories in the little green, yellow, and blue books. My student read them carefully and deliberately. Then verses and chapters in his Bible. And then newspaper articles.

He wasn’t the only one who was learning. He was thirty years older than me. He had raised a family. Fought in a war. Worked on an assembly line. He was a teacher, too.

I still promote and train. And travel as a minister encouraging churches to help. My calling as a minister is not the traditional one. I am opening this window for you to better understand the connection between and literacy initiatives. We need each other. We need to work together.

It’s estimated that 3.8 million adults in Texas lack sufficient literacy skills. Texas LEARNS estimates that 100,000-plus are currently served through state and federally-funded adult education in Texas. No one knows how many are served through other programs (including faith-based). Probably all told under 200,000.

I’m convinced that people of faith are a great untapped resource for literacy programs across Texas. I’m convinced that there are dozens of ways churches can help people with literacy needs. Teaching basic literacy and ESL, yes. But also by providing books to children in support of family literacy. And mentoring in schools makes a difference, too. I also believe that advocating on behalf of education at the federal, state, and local levels is needed.

Volunteer Job Openings

Literacy Connexus is looking for a few good men or women. If you are familiar with our Newsletter, you know that we would love for you to join us in this ministry. We have three volunteer positions to fill, each allowing for flexibility of time and commitment. Prayerfully consider which position is right for you. Contact Lester, 817-696-9898.

1)      Book Finder

Do you have a nose for finding things? Literacy Connexus is always in need of children’s books to give to families in need. This volunteer position involves scouring the internet for organizations with books to give away, following leads on book give-aways, and soliciting book contributions from agencies, businesses, and individuals. In general, you would be a children’s book sleuth, tracking every lead and sniffing every trail. You would unearth the book bonanzas of Texas, giving Literacy Connexus the opportunity to share the wealth.

Qualifications:  Effective computer search skills; clear communicator by telephone and email; thrive on challenges.

Commitment:  Minimum of 4 hours/week.

 

2)      Development Director

Are you a fundraiser at heart? This volunteer position involves collaborating with the executive director to design and implement a development strategy for Literacy Connexus, in order to achieve fundraising goals and engage donors. You would lead and manage development efforts to raise the annual budget.  You would engage the board of directors, and train and lead fellow staff members to support fundraising efforts. Writing grant proposals and reports to funders is a major component of this job.

Qualifications:  High energy, positive, “can-do” attitude, flexibility, and teamwork; high degree of initiative and the ability to think strategically. Strong verbal communication skills and demonstrated ability to write clearly and persuasively, with attention to detail. Grant writing experience is recommended; a thorough understanding of strategic development is a must.

Commitment:  Minimum of 6 hour/week.

 

3)       Project Manager

Do you love it when a plan comes together? This volunteer position involves dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s of Books for the Border and Beyond projects-in-the-making throughout Texas. As churches and groups navigate from the planning phase to hosting a family reading fair and submitting their follow-up reports, your job would be to answer their questions, ask a few of your own for our records, and ensure that they receive the materials we provide for each project in a timely manner. You would be the Literacy Connexus liaison, with the backing of the rest of the staff.

Qualifications:  Friendly; clear communicator by telephone and email; problem solver.

Commitment: Minimum of 4 hours/week.