Our mission is to change lives through literacy. We match volunteer tutors with motivated adults lacking the English or math skills to perform the everyday tasks that they need to be effective employees, parents, and citizens in American society. LVODC’s free, tailored literacy support for adults and families increases literacy skills and enhances quality of life. Improved literacy benefits individuals, families, employers, and the community. Our vision is to be the leading partner in bringing people together to support and achieve 100% literacy in Otsego, Delaware, and Chenango Counties.
Founded and incorporated in 1974, Literacy Volunteers of Otsego and Delaware Counties (LVODC) is a community-based not-for-profit with IRS charitable 501(c)(3) status, which it gained in 2005. In 1979, it became a member of Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA), a Syracuse-based national movement begun by educator Ruth Colvin to train volunteer tutors to combat weak reading and writing skills, thereby addressing the pervasive problems in their communities caused by illiteracy. LVODC continues to receive training assistance from LVA-New York’s successor organization, Literacy New York, and is also a member of ProLiteracy, an organization that merged two organizations in 2002: Literacy Volunteers of America and Laubach Literacy International.
LVODC has operated over the years under the aegis of various organizations, including the Oneonta Community Education Center, SUNY Research Foundation, Adult Education, and the Oneonta City School District, but is now an independent entity supported by a three-year NYSED Adult Literacy Education consortium grant, by annual grants from community and private foundations, by local businesses, and by individual donors. Over the years it has identified potential students by collaborating with many types of agencies and groups, including adult education, workforce development and job training academies, local employers, juvenile and adult correction facilities, special needs programs, and community libraries. Since the closing of Literacy Volunteers of Chenango County in 2016, LVODC has continued the literacy program in Norwich through the dedicated efforts of past and new tutors from Chenango County. Our main office relocated to 155 Main Street, Suite E, Oneonta, in February 2017.
Adults 16 years and over may contact the Program Coordinator of LVODC directly for tutoring, or they may be referred by an agency, employer, academic program, or friend. After a confidential interview and placement tests to verify that our services are appropriate for their needs, new students are matched with local tutors. Tutor and learner exchange contact information and arrange to meet weekly in a mutually convenient public place, such as a library or coffee shop, for one-and-a-half to two hours. The student agrees to be retested periodically to measure his or her progress and to identify areas needing additional work.
Together the tutor and student identify the student’s goals and needs, and the tutor fashions lessons tailored to these. The goals of our students vary. Some students may want to learn how to read to a child or help with homework. Others may want to earn a High School Equivalency (also known as the TASC or GED). Some of our students would like new employment but lack appropriate reading, writing, or math skills. ESOL students may wish to understand and be understood in English to order to navigate daily life in the United States, gain employment, communicate with their children’s teachers, gain a driver’s license, or even prepare for the citizenship exam. A separate conversation group to allow practice in spoken English as well as cross-cultural exchange for native speakers of other languages is offered on Tuesday mornings at Center Street School in Oneonta.
If you would like to be tutored in one of our subject areas, or if you know an adult who would like weekly tutoring, contact Eva Davidson, our Program Coordinator, at email@example.com, or call her at (607) 287-0036.
We are overwhelmingly an organization powered by volunteers, whether they are tutors, office assistants, or Board members. Our volunteer tutors range from college students to retirees; many are retired teachers and professors, but teaching experience is not a requirement. What matters most are the passion and the commitment to share the power of reading with another adult. We offer training in tutoring basic English and math literacy and ESOL to our tutors through both face-to-face and online sessions, and our library of materials at our office in Oneonta is available for reference and loan to active tutors.
A key benefit to both student and tutor is the relationship that grows between them as they work on skills together weekly. To encourage real gains in skills as well as build that relationship, we ask for a commitment of at least a year from tutors. However, we realize that our tutors have lives that may take them out of town for periods of time, so we try to accommodate those plans. Prospective volunteers who spend a summer or winter away from the local area should discuss their likely plans with the Program Coordinator, Eva Davidson, when applying to become a tutor.
There are other kinds of volunteering that support LVODC, including staffing the office, supporting a promotional campaign, and sponsoring or organizing a fundraising event. A few individuals apply their expertise in specific areas of education such as testing or special needs education by assisting the Program Coordinator with administering a particular wing or component of the program.
LVODC’s sole staff member is our half-time Program Coordinator, Eva T. Davidson. Eva began working for us in December of 2016 and quickly came up to speed on the varied and complex aspects of the organization. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, Eva is—in addition to being an efficient administrator—a poet, lyricist, and Lecturer in English who teaches Creative Writing part-time at Hartwick College. At LVODC, she is the initial and continuing point of contact for volunteers, students, partner organizations, and the general public. To learn more about any aspect of LVODC, contact Eva at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (607) 287-0036.
Board of Directors