NORWICH – Literacy Volunteers of Chenango County is celebrating their 25th year of helping adult learners improve their literacy skills and reach their personal goals. But the timing is bittersweet for the agency, which is facing state funding cuts which place its very survival in jeopardy.
On Thursday, the non-profit organization will celebrate this important 25 year milestone at its Annual Recognition Dinner. Both tutors and adult learners will be honored for their contributions and accomplishments at the event, which will be held at the Emmanuel Episcopal Church.
“Over the years, so many individuals have contributed to the success of this program,” said LVCC Program Coordinator Kelly Sines, who has spent the last month gathering stories from tutors, students and volunteers to include in a booklet which will be distributed at the dinner.
According to Sines, the LVCC has served approximately 1,000 local residents since the program’s inception in 1985. At any given time the organization has roughly 40 adult participants working one-on-one with volunteer tutors, and as many as 70 active volunteers.
Over the last 20 years, the agency has helped lower the percentage of Chenango County adults who are classified as functionally illiterate, meaning they read below a fourth grade level.
According to LVCC Director Terry Bickford, the number of area residents which fall into this, the lowest literacy catetgory, has decreased from 14 to 12 percent over that time period, while New York State as a whole has seen that percentage rise. Bickford credits local schools for their role in reversing this trend, but says her agency is the only one which works with adults who read below a 6th grade level.