Confession: I don’t make enough noise about Literacy DuPage. I pour all kinds of time and energy into this non-profit organization because I love what we do. We change lives, for crying out loud!
But most days, I am not crying out loud. I quietly go about my work as volunteer/board member, making my own small, individual difference. Of course if someone asks, I will tell them all about Literacy DuPage. I can go on and on.
But most people aren’t asking.
What does it take to be more vocal about an organization you love? Whether you’re into Literacy DuPage or some other worthy cause, the answer is pretty simple:
You just need to start a conversation.
But how? To learn from the best, I turned to several of our most passionate leaders and volunteers for ideas, asking:
When you find yourself in a situation where you can tell someone new about Literacy DuPage, how do you begin?
Their answers give us six different ways to start a conversation:
David shares his personal experience.
“What better way to spend my spare time and give back to the community: helping others learn, practice, and use English in their communities, helping their children in school, and qualifying for better employment. The eagerness the learners show is energizing, and the personal rewards are deeply gratifying and will last forever. Literacy DuPage provides the means to make this all happen.”
David Stephenson, Volunteer Tutor
Therese tells stories.
“I talk about Jorge, who went from struggling with English, and almost quitting his job, to supervising the kitchen staff at Aurelio’s. This turnaround happened because his boss introduced him to literacy DuPage, and because of Jorge’s own resolve to learn English. Or I mention Shabnam, who escaped personal tragedy in Afghanistan and helped 3,000 other refugees relocate to safety and hope—then arrived in DuPage County knowing no English. Today, she is happy and determined to succeed, focusing now on growing her reading and computer skills. Or I tell of Lourdes, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in spring 2017 to make her five children proud. Every one of our learners has a story, and we help them tell it. Five hundred stories per year—that’s pretty amazing!”
Therese McMahon, Executive Director
Bob asks a question.
“Did you realize that more than 10 percent of all residents in DuPage County need some kind of language instruction? Many of these people can seem “invisible” because they do not feel comfortable interacting with all of their neighbors. We need to reach as many of these people as possible to help them gain confidence in their literacy skills to more fully participate in our society—in schools, places of worship, workplaces, volunteering. And when our adult learners become more confident and capable, they can support their children and families better. This is what Literacy DuPage is all about.”
Bob Talbot, Board Member & Treasurer
Cassandra listens for a good segue.
“When people talk about literacy or libraries or someone not understanding English, I mention where I work. And if I can, I share a little data that shows how literacy affects us. Did you know that children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72% chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves? These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. That’s why we need to reach adults.”
Cassandra Shepherd, Volunteer Recruitment & Marketing Manager
Karen describes how tutors change lives.
“Literacy DuPage is about having a relationship with a person from another culture. Tutors are a bridge to help the learners understand this new and often confusing country they are living in. By helping adults learn English, we empower them to help their children and move forward with jobs. We help them acquire the confidence to step out of the shadows and reach goals that were not possible without speaking English.“
Karen Fuist, Peer Tutor Mentor
Jean speaks to strong values.
“It is important to create and maintain a movement that focuses on American values and how we strengthen our families and communities. Literacy DuPage works to reframe the issues surrounding the inability to read, write, speak, or communicate, and we help remove the trepidation about reaching out to new immigrants. Creating partnerships with local libraries, schools, businesses, and community organizations is part of the vitality Literacy DuPage brings to the people we serve. It is important for individuals to give their time, talent, and treasures to Literacy DuPage to receive a high return from minimal investment.”
Jean Demas, Board Member & President
I hope you’re as inspired by these conversation starters as I am. Let’s go make some noise!