Impact Story: Adult Literacy Program

Red Deer Public Library's Adult Literacy Program matches volunteer tutors with adult learners who wish to improve their listening, speaking, reading, writing, basic math, and digital skills. The learner/tutor pairs work together one-on-one for approximately 2 hours per week, meeting in person at the library or online.

Historically, the Adult Literacy program registers around 5-8 new learners per month, but in recent months, demand for the program has grown exponentially. In February 2023, the Adult Literacy program registered 29 new learners, which was the record number in the history of the program. In March 2023, this new record was nearly doubled, with 56 new learners registering for the program last month. Typically, the program matches 7-13 learner/tutor pairs per month, but now Adult Literacy staff are matching up to 16 pairs per week. These numbers are beyond historic, and really highlight the escalating need in our community for learning and literacy support for adults. 

Our Adult Literacy team, Alla, Lois, Carolyn, and Michelle, work tirelessly to register learners, recruit and train volunteers, match the learners with the best tutors to suit their needs, and set them all up for success. We are thankful to be able to provide this essential support in our community, and are so grateful to our many Adult Literacy volunteers who make this important work possible. 

George's Story

One of our Adult Literacy learners, George S., wanted to share his story about the incredible impact that the Adult Literacy program has had on his life. Here is George's story:

Gloria and I worked together twice a week since June 2022. I didn’t know how to read and write.

WCB mentioned the Adult Literacy Program and I was sent to Calgary for an assessment. I was told that I had a Grade 5 level in reading and said I should be able to get a job. I tried to find a job, but I needed computer, reading and writing. Due to my health, age, and literacy level, I couldn’t find a job.

I was sitting at home waiting for someone to help me. I got an appointment to meet a tutor (Gloria). I was nervous and embarrassed at the time. She started at the bottom to see where I was really at. Spelling was very difficult. Reading was a little better but still very low. She gave me a lot of encouragement.

They just pushed me through school. I went to Grade 8 and dropped out. I was a functioning illiterate.

I read my first book through this program. I found I enjoyed reading, learning about different things and ideas, and my vocabulary has picked up. I started looking forward to learning things to better myself and the way I think about myself across the board. I knew I was slowly improving, feeling more confident about everything. Not so scared to make decisions. I have been scared most of my life so I did hard labour jobs and didn’t accept promotions in case I couldn’t do the reading and writing.

Gloria can’t work with me anymore because she is moving but I am still pursuing my goals to finish Grade 12. I started on Challenger 3 and now am working in Challenger 6 and I want to finish the series. I will pursue Math next. I am on a mission now. I want to continue working with a new tutor*.

People like me shouldn’t be scared because there are people that are more than willing to help and help is available. You have to take that first step and give it a chance. I have more respect and more confidence in myself.

*George was matched with a new tutor at the end of March, so his learning journey continues.

As you can see through George's story, the Adult Literacy program is truly lifechanging for so many in our community, but our work cannot be done without essential support of volunteers. Despite the large number of learner/tutor matches that we have set up in recent months, due to the unprecedented number of new registrants in the program, there are still over 100 learners waiting for help. We can really use your support! If you are interested in becoming a volunteer tutor, please contact:

The Adult Literacy Team (Alla, Carolyn, Lois, or Michelle)
In person: Dawe Branch, Red Deer Public Library (56 Holt Street, in the G.H. Dawe Community Centre)
By phone: 403-346-2533
By email:

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