To honor the unsung heroes working in every corner of this country as volunteers, the National Association of Counties (NACo) launched the Acts of Caring awards in 2000 as part of the Counties Serve America program, a long-term project to raise public awareness and understanding about county government. The awards recognize that by joining forces with county government, volunteers have a powerful impact on their communities that is both immediate and long lasting. READ/Orange County was one of 20 outstanding volunteer programs selected from across the nation to receive the 2001 Acts of Caring award. Congratulations READ/Orange County!
READ/Orange County (READ/OC), the adult literacy services of the Orange County Public Library, provides no-cost, direct one-to-one and small group tutoring in basic reading, writing, and English skills to low-level and non-reading residents of Orange County. The program’s mission is to create a more literate community by providing diversified services of the highest quality to all who seek them. The overt benefit of the program is to those who, by increasing their literacy skills, become more employable, more informed community members and voters, and more capable of assisting their children in gaining literacy skills.
READ/OC tutors are volunteers from the community who are trained professionally to assist learners. At the end of a 23-hour training course, tutors are able to teach a learner to read using only a pencil and paper. Whether learners want to obtain their driver’s license, fill out job applications, read to their children or get their GED, READ/OC tutors structure the learning process around those goals.
The Families for Literacy component of READ/OC was implemented in 1997 to address the intergenerational cycle of illiteracy. Children whose parents are functionally illiterate are twice as likely to be illiterate and also more likely to drop out of the school system. Volunteer tutors work with parents and children so that parents learn how to communicate with and be involved in their children’s education and children learn school readiness skills prior to beginning school.
READ/OC in conjunction with the Sheriff-Coroner Department matches volunteer tutors with inmates seeking literacy skills via the Working for Inmate Literacy Now Program. The goals of this program are to demonstrate the practical benefits of improving literacy skills; demonstrate that the inmate is capable of improving his/her literacy skills; and encourage learners to continue their education upon transfer or release from the jail system.
The benefits of READ/OC extend to all residents of Orange County because literacy levels have a direct impact on every aspect of society. Literacy skills are so tightly woven into every facet of a person’s life – civic, professional, and personal – that it is impossible to separate the impact that the lack of these skills has from one aspect to another. In order to better serve the community in which they live, adults must be equipped for the future. READ/OC’s literacy services assist learners in becoming more effective citizens and workers who can adapt to change and actively participate in all aspects of community life.
Since its inception in 1991, READ/OC volunteers have contributed more than 80,000 tutoring hours and an additional 82,000 hours in talent and support services.
Click here to find out how you can become a READ/Orange County volunteer.