By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer
Providing a foundation for learning, the Roosevelt County Literacy Council has undergone some recent changes to provide more accessibility of its programs to Portales and surrounding communities.
Restructuring and revitalizing the program is what new executive director Pete Martinez has been doing since taking the post a little over two months ago. Office hours have been extended from 20 hours per week to 40 hours. By extending the hours, the Literacy Council now has more ability to reach community members, said Martinez.
“Twenty-five percent of Roosevelt County is in need of one of our services,” said Martinez.
Another step that is taking place in the program is communicating with other agencies in the area, said Martinez. The goal is to try and expand the program without duplicating the services of other community agencies, said Martinez.
“It’s all about benefiting the community,” said Martinez.
Based upon four components, the program is designed to help the adult population by providing them with the means to obtain their General Equivalency Diploma (GED),learn English as a Second Language(ESL), Citizenship classes, and Adult Literacy. Services provided by the council are free to everyone, said Martinez.
“By offering these services, we are opening a door that would have otherwise been closed,” said Martinez.
The program pairs a tutor, who at least has their high school diploma or GED. with a student based on compatibility. A meeting takes place between the student, executive director, and tutor to determine what the student would like to gain and utilize from the program, said Martinez.
At the present time, the council is in need of tutors, said Robin Wells, president of the Roosevelt County Literacy Council board of directors.
The council is working with student organizations at Eastern New Mexico University to try and rectify this problem. Often people feel that in order to tutor, they have to have a degree, which is not the case, said Wells.
“If a person can speak English and wants to give back to the community, this is a wonderful opportunity,” Wells said.
The benefits of reaching out to the council for help are great, said Wells.
The program has the opportunity to enable a person to learn the English language or to read. This in turn provides a person with the means to obtain a better paying job. It can also be beneficial to students that are in a Spanish speaking home to see their relatives learn and better understand the English language, said Wells.
“It’s never too late, said Wells. Assisting individuals becoming
more literate, helps the community.”