Want to keep up your New Year’s resolution to volunteer more? This is the third in a weekly, seven-part series to help you get involved. Read on to see what organizations could use your help.
Volunteers at the Ozark Literacy Council often develop mutually beneficial relationships with their students. While the students learn to read and write, the volunteers learn about different cultures and may make lifelong friends.
Volunteer Jennifer Longstretch, who is currently working on her masters degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, helps teach the intermediate English as a Second Language (ESL) class twice a week. She finds the relationships she’s made as a volunteer incredibly valuable.
Ozark Literacy Council
Contact: (479) 521-8250
Summary: Help both immigrants and native speakers learn to read, write and speak English.
Requirements: Age 16+
Who they’re looking for: Private tutors, classroom instructors, receptionists, ESL conversation partners, classroom teaching assistants, housekeeping and maintenance volunteers, lawn maintenance and landscaping volunteers, marketing volunteers, fundraising committee members, etc.
“The relationships are so strong, and you get to learn so much,” Longstretch said. “I love learning from my students.”
OLC is accepting new volunteers for all positions offered, but specifically need more private tutors. Private tutors are assigned to an ESL student or an illiterate native speaker.
Recently, OLC has expanded into Springdale. They offer tutoring at the Springdale Public Library, and are looking for volunteers who are willing to help out with that as well.
All OLC volunteers must take part in a tutor-training workshop, which takes place on the last Wednesday of every month. The workshop takes approximately three hours to complete. It’s taught by a TOEFL certified instructor. Volunteers are asked to come in for at least one and a half hours each week.
Apart from OLC’s traditional volunteering opportunities, they have a new project in the works – the Little Free Library community outreach literacy initiative. As part of the initiative, both professional architects and architecture students at the University of Arkansas designed Little Free Libraries.
OLC is currently looking for sponsors for the Little Free Libraries. The proceeds from the project will support OLC’s educational and outreach programs. For more information about sponsoring a Little Free Library visit ozarkliteracy.org/little-free-library.
OLC’s executive director Margot Jackson says the ideal OLC volunteer is open minded to new cultures and willing to learn from their students. She recommends volunteering at OLC because no previous experience is necessary, lasting friendships are made and students bring in great new international foods to try.