Program provides literacy help

Tony Parra

The following story maybe be easy to read for most people, but for others it might be in a foreign language they don’t understand.
The Roosevelt County Literacy Council is celebrating it’s 15th-year anniversary and day-to-day more than 15 volunteers help give people within the ages of 16 to 60 the gift of reading.
The idea to help with literacy in Roosevelt County first came about when Frankie King and Jonelle Brooks of the Women’s Altrusa Club made a trip to Denver, Colo. for a conference. They met Earla Martin of the Chavez County Literacy Council and she preached the importance of teaching literacy.
“We were so excited and we arranged to have Earla give the Altrusa Club in Portales the story and we were all sold on it,” King said.
Martin taught volunteers for the Altrusa Club to be tutors and they taught students from 1986 to 1992. Sandra Matheny applied for and received a grant for the literacy program and from that time on the RCLC has received funding from the state for the literacy program.
“Sandy and Earla were instrumental during the early years of the program,” King said.
Tutors for the literacy council provide free one-on-one tutoring for English as a second language, Adult Basic Education and for those seeking a Graduate Equivalent Degree (GED). Tutors also help those interested in taking the citizenship test, which contains 96 civics questions.
Tutors have helped Patricia Gomez get into college. Gomez, a mother of three, obtained her GED in March of 2001 and is currently attending Clovis Community College. Gomez, a former student, began the program in 2000.
“It has helped me conquer my goals to get to where I am today,” Gomez said. “Without my GED, I wouldn’t be working at the (Portales Public) library. It has opened education- and work-related doors for me.”
Sue Alexander, executive director of the RCLC, and Linda Rippee, president of the board of the RCLC, annually send out applications for funding. They receive funding from the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy and the Roosevelt County United Way. However, funding is still limited and only helps pay for a 20-hour work week for Alexander and 10-hour work week for Martha Lemus, who is a student coordinator. Alexander said they have had to put in volunteer hours, themselves, to be able to handle the office work.
“I became aware of the work they did when I came in one day,” Kim Lutnesky, a RCLC tutor, said. “I’ve taught two students and it’s been a positive experience so far. It’s nice to meet these people and help them with their goals.”
Alexander said volunteers have devoted much of their time to helping others. Alexander and Rippee agree that no one has gone, “above and beyond” more than Carl Wilson. Alexander said Wilson worked 98 hours in one month.
“From our perspective, we have the children learn it at school, but we need the parents to come in,” Alexander said. “Our schools are limited if parent’s don’t have the appreciation for literacy and can’t support their child.”
The RCLC will be holding an annual fund raiser event at 6:30 p.m. on March 18, 2004 at The Roosevelt restaurant, located in the town square. Tickets are $30 per person and $55 per couple and there’s a $15 tax-deductible donation per person. For information, call 356-8500.