Literacy is so much more than being able to read a book.
Literacy can land you the job. Literacy can make street signs change from a jumble of letters into the way home. Literacy means being able to help your kids with their homework.
One nonprofit is helping to make all those abilities come true for the local community.
Vision Literacy, which has offices in both Milpitas and Gilroy, has volunteer tutors as well as staff who are ready and prepared to help residents become more literate, to help them achieve their goals and better their lives.
The nonprofit focuses on community literacy, computer literacy, family literacy, leadership development, and health literacy, all taught through free classes and sessions.
“The results we see in people increasing the literacy in their lives definitely supports our efforts,” said Pat Lawson-North, executive director of Vision Literacy.
Lawson-North has been with the organization for more than 10 years, and says she still gets excited when she sees the progress of students.
“We believe in what we do, and the services we provide are definitely needed,” she said.
Lawson-North said that a majority of the students are adult English language learners, and already know what they want to work on – like being able to write better, or understand certain vocabulary – instead of needing a standard class program. She said the tutors and students set their own individual goals.
“If they’re motivated by their own goals, not a standard book, then they tend to do better,” Lawson-North said.
Vision Literacy's main office in Milpitas and another office is located in Gilroy at 490 W. 8th Street. However, students and tutors can meet at various locations throughout Santa Clara County.
With the right consistency and a good matchup with a tutor, many success stories have come out of the program.
Clemente Limon was a student with the nonprofit and was very satisfied, as was his wife, who was also a student.
“With my previous tutors, I was having trouble with my reading, but [Vision Literacy] got me pointed in the right direction,” Limon wrote in his success story. “With [my Vision Lioteracy tutor] Bob, I've gotten more professional advice - not only with reading and writing, but also with several aspects of business. He's gotten me more involved with writing than I've ever been in my life.”
The tutors, though volunteers, tend to get as much out of the program as the students.
Sandy Reed wrote on the website that, while she was tutoring Alejandra, Limon’s wife, in English, Alejandra was helping her learn Spanish.
“Alejandra began to tutor me in Spanish and discovered that her English improved along with my Spanish,” Reed wrote.
Reed’s husband, Bob Ingle, tutors Clemente, and she tutors Alejandra.
Reed said, “Literacy success is all about teamwork, and I'm proud to be part of a team that includes two all-stars - Alejandra and Clemente Limon.”
Vision Literacy is free to adults in Santa Clara County who are 16 years or older, not enrolled in school, read or write below the ninth grade level, speak at least conversational English, and are willing to meet with a tutor for at least two hours per week for six or more months.
To begin learning, fill out an application online, call 408-676-7323, or stop by the Milpitas office, located on Valley Way in the ; or the Gilroy office, at 490 W. 8th St.