Volunteering: An Important Way to Share Your Literacy Skills
Michelle Day, Consultant
A few months ago I finally decided to pursue volunteering with the Center for Women and Families (CWF), something I’d thought about for years but for various (good and bad) reasons had never gotten around to doing.
To my very pleasant surprise (and sort of by accident), I connected with two CWF staff members who invited me to become part of a reading/writing group they’re starting with some people who are receiving services from the Center. I’m beyond thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to use the English skills I’m learning to work toward a cause I care very much about—ending intimate partner violence and sexual assault and supporting those who have experienced it.
But now, it’s got me thinking. My last blog post on June 17 was about improving personal statements in preparation for grad school applications. To be sure, I spend a lot of time talking to students about how they can improve their writing in pursuit of further education or a job, an obviously valuable task. Yet I can’t really remember ever advising students about how they can use their writing (or other literacy-related) skills for volunteer work, which is often easier to find and obtain than employment or graduate school admission.
There are many reasons people seek out volunteer work. For me, it was a combination of things. As a Christian, I believe making sacrifices for the good of others is one of the most important things Jesus did and taught others to do. My role at the CWF will also allow me to practice writing/teaching differently than I do at the Writing Center or in the classroom. Plus, it’s a nice way to bring balance to an often-hectic schedule of mostly work/school activities.
Other volunteers might have similar spiritual/moral or practical reasons. Some people might volunteer because the issue they’re involved in has personally affected them or because they want to connect with people who have similar values. Other people find volunteer work in general rewarding or feel a personal moral obligation to help others. Still more volunteers want to learn new skills or do some professional networking.
Whatever the motivation beyond the impulse to serve, people who are skilled in literacy-related practices can find ways to use those skills to satisfy the volunteer impulse in their local communities. Here are a few literacy-related opportunities you can check out around Louisville:
The Center for Women and Families offers services to (male and female) survivors of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence. You can volunteer to be an English tutor and help individuals practice their English speaking, listening, and writing skills.
- The Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs seeks to provide education, life skill resources, and community to its works. Volunteers can teach or tutor in a variety of subjects, including English skills.
- Portland Promise Center is a faith-based community development center in Louisville’s Portland neighborhood. It offers opportunities for
volunteers to tutor kids.
- Brooklawn Child and Family Services — a residential, therapeutic treatment center for youth with behaviorial/emotional issues — also has opportunities for volunteers to tutor in a variety of subjects, including English.
- Kentucky Refugee Ministries is the Kentucky state refugee resettlement office at which volunteers can tutor in English/ESL.