For the last day of #AmeriCorpsWeek we wanted to highlight a few of our AmeriCorps members' experiences. With their permission, we're sharing what they've learned and accomplished as AmeriCorps members.
Think back to the age when you believed you could do anything. The age you saw the world the way you wanted to. The age everyone around you tried to protect you from what was outside.
While we all come from different cities, communities, and homes, we all share the experience of childhood. We are all made up of many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become.
But these experiences do not define us.
Taylor is 8. After facing difficulties at home as a child, Taylor is sent to live with her father and sister. Despite her beginnings, the little girl feels hopeful about her future.
Taylor is 17. Family life has continued to be chaotic for the young woman. After facing hardships at home with her father and sister, Taylor can no longer attend school.
Taylor is 31. She often finds herself becoming frustrated when helping her young daughter with her homework. When she looks at her daughter, she thinks back to her own childhood. She wants to do better for both of them, but does not know what steps she needs to take.
Taylor is 35. As she walks across the stage, about to receive her hard-earned high school equivalency certificate, she is greeted with familiar smiles. Her daughter beams at her from the front row as she makes her way to the microphone to begin her graduation speech, a childhood dream fulfilled.
"Everyone in this room dedicates their lives, providing hope to make this possible," Taylor said. "You believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. But thanks to you, now I do--I believe in me!"
Scared and timid, Taylor first walked into the Literacy Coalition's Learning Center last summer. Our Learning Center provides case management services along with a robust adult education program, offering high school equivalency exam preparation and job readiness classes. Taylor signed up for job readiness classes, where she built her resume and honed her interviewing skills. In three and a half months, she improved her reading by three grade levels. During that time, her math skills jumped from sixth to twelfth grade level.
"What takes an average student years of hard work took Taylor only six months," said Vernelle Elliot, high school equivalency instructor. "That is what I call resilience and determination!"
Our social worker referred her to our social and emotional support services, offering direct assistance for transportation, groceries and utilities, so she could focus on her school.
Taylor is now on her way to Austin Community College to continue her education. Her long-term goal is to become a substance abuse counselor.
Though we are made of up many different experiences that shape who we will eventually become, it is our response to these experiences that shape who we are.
At the Literacy Coalition, we commit to tirelessly helping those like Taylor who strive daily to create a better life for themselves and their family.
Walking into the Boyd Vance Theatre, our Learning Center's 2016 graduates were filled with mixed emotions. After balancing months of courses, jobs and responsibilities at home, it was the bittersweet moment the students had been waiting for.
On January 19, the George Washington Carver Museum hosted the annual Literacy Coalition's Learning Center graduation, celebrating the lives of 22 hard-working students who kept us inspired in 2016.
"Instead of an end to the students' time with the Literacy Coalition, graduation is simply the beginning of the life they have always wanted to live," said Ashlee Kraus, social services coordinator. "Although it is not always easy, it is always important to create time to help those who need assistance to become who they are meant to be."
At the Literacy Coalition, we make the time for people who make time for their families and themselves. In turn, we hope to encourage them to make a difference in someone else’s life.
On December 17, more than 100 families gathered at Allan Center to celebrate their milestone of the year: the end of their participation in our bilingual parenting program.
With 14 weeks of work under their belt, our parenting program participants took with them parenting strategies and the relationships they built along the way. And thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, every family with perfect attendance received a digital tablet.
Our parenting program, modeled after the nationally renowned Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) curriculum, takes place at many of our Coalition Partner sites. Through communication techniques, child psychology and hands-on practice, the program aims to be a catalyst to ensure parents set their children up for success at school and in life.
"While the PALS parenting program instructs adults on how to deepen their impact as parents, there is so much children can teach adults too," said Melissa Sanchez, PALS program assistant director. "As we grow older, we make time for work, but never to play. We practice our business, but never exercise our creativity. We seek to be rich without being rich in happiness. Children see the beauty in the world that adults often miss amidst the chaos of life. And that beauty is something worth holding onto. "
In the face of increasing violence and division in our country, and the uncertain times facing our staff and clients with the change in our national administration, the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas releases the following position statement to guide our decision-making and express support for the clients and communities we serve.
We, the staff and board of the Literacy Coalition of Central Texas, commit to...
Stand behind our clients.
- We will tirelessly empower our clients to understand civic processes and be aware of opportunities to express their voices and exert their power and influence.
- We condemn all hate crimes and hate speech and will confront hatred and marginalization when we see it.
- We will not compromise the privacy and integrity of our clients and their personal information.
Work to rebuild trust.
- We will actively seek out marginalized voices and perspectives.
- We will work to rebuild trust between institutions and communities of color so all people feel safe in their neighborhoods and inside our doors.
Embrace diversity and be a place of respite.
We are here to serve everyone who wants to learn, and we are committed to being a safe and supportive place for anyone who comes through our doors.
We value and embrace diverse cultures, perspectives, sexual orientations, gender identities, religions and backgrounds, as diversity leads to learning and understanding.
We will be a place of respite and love for any and all who feel scared, threatened, intimidated or alone—you matter; you are seen; you are loved.
STAND WITH US
If you feel compelled to act, here are four tangible things you can do to make a difference:
La Alianza de la Alfabetización Apoya a sus Clientes
Ante la creciente violencia y división en nuestro país, y los tiempos de incertidumbre que enfrentan nuestros clientes y personal con el cambio en nuestra administración federal, la Alianza de la Alfabetización del Centro de Texas (Literacy Coalition of Central Texas) publica la siguiente declaración de posición para guiar nuestra toma de decisiones y expresar apoyo a nuestros clientes y a las comunidades que servimos.
El personal y la junta directiva de la Literacy Coalition of Central Texas se comprometen a...
Apoyar a nuestros clientes.
- Incansablemente capacitaremos a nuestros clientes a entender procesos cívicos y a ser conscientes de las oportunidades para expresar sus voces y ejercer su poder e influencia.
- Condenamos todo crimen de odio, así también como el discurso de odio. Daremos nuestra cara al odio y a la marginación cuando estos estén presentes.
- Nos comprometeremos a la privacidad e integridad de nuestros clientes y a su información personal.
Trabajar para reconstruir la confianza.
- Buscaremos activamente voces y perspectivas marginadas.
- Trabajaremos para reconstruir la confianza entre las instituciones y las comunidades de color para que todas las personas se sientan seguras en sus colonioas y dentro de nuestras puertas.
Aceptar la diversidad y ser un lugar seguro.
- Estamos aquí para servir a todos los que quieren aprender, y nos comprometemos a ser un lugar seguro y de apoyo para cualquier persona que entra por nuestras puertas.
- Valoramos y aceptamos diversas culturas, perspectivas, orientaciones sexuales, identidades de género, religiones y antecedentes, ya que la diversidad conduce a la comprensión y al aprendizaje.
- Seremos un lugar seguro y de amor para toda persona que se sienta asustada, amenazada, intimidada o sola – importas; reconocemos tu existencia; eres amado(a).
On Friday, October 28, more than 400 people gathered in the historic Texas Federation of Women's Clubs' Mansion to celebrate literacy in Central Texas.
The evening began with young pianist Jimmy Chen, delighting guests with his magical classical touch. A silent auction, including an exotic safari trip to Africa and a wine tour through Napa Valley, entertained guests while tasting sponsors awaited in the grand ballroom.
The grand ballroom opened, and guests experienced delicious bites from Annie's Café & Bar, Juliet Ristorante and Nightcap, mouth-watering desserts from Miles of Chocolate, SRSLY Chocolate and Nothing Bunt Cakes. Tasting beverage sponsors included Locations Wine, Legato Winery, Pedernales Cellars, Texas Saké Company, Tequila 512, Herman-Marshall Whiskey, Revolution Spirits, 4th Tap Brewing Company, the ABGB--among many others.
We are incredibly grateful to those who came to celebrate with us and offered their support. Thanks to their generosity, we can continue ensuring families and individuals can gain the skills they need to reach their full potential.
If you're wondering what our fabulous signature event can offer you, take a look at some of this year's featured items in the spirit of...
…Austin Fashion. Shopping at Capra & Cavelli, Eliza Page jewelry, celebratory champagne
…A Derby Day. Hermes scarf, wine rack, playing cards, flask, authentic bourbon
...Relaxation. Milk + Honey spa day and basket of pampering products, scented candle, champagne
…The Gourmand. Private knife skills class, artisan locally made products, cooking spirits
…The Gentleman. Shopping at Capra & Cavelli, 12-year Chivas Regal scotch, silver ice bucket
…Rejuvenation. At-home mani/pedi/facial supplies, month of free yoga, saltwater float sessions
...The Texas Longhorns. Dinner at Vince Young Steakhouse, autographed basketball and football
You will also be able to bid on fun Group Experiences including group tastings at:
- Blue Owl Brewery
- Dripping Springs Vodka
- Bending Branch Winery
- William & Chris Vineyards
- Vom Fass
And if family entertaining is up your alley, don’t miss:
- Supplies to host an amazing ice cream party and barbecue
- Two family or individual portrait photography session packages
- Passes for four to the Austin Bouldering Project
- And trips to the following exciting destinations:
Alpha Omega winery in Napa Valley
South African Safari
PLUS MANY MORE EXCITING PACKAGES!
Gracie Castro, a 2014 graduate, came back to visit a few weeks ago and to tell us about her new job. After completing Job Readiness and attaining her GED last year, she was looking to start a career. Because of our partnership in the Workforce & Education Readiness Continuum (WERC), Gracie was able to get help from Ed, a Job Developer, to find a job with Seton. She started out as a PRN and was quickly hired on full-time.
She is now earning more than $15 an hour with shift differential and plenty of overtime pay. She commented about how hard it seemed while she was working toward her goals at The Learning Center (formerly known as Ascend), and how there were times when she wasn’t sure she would be able to finish. But she did - and she is so glad she did. Now we hope to schedule a time for Gracie to talk with our current students about her experience, the challenges she faced and how she overcame them, and more about her promising new career at Seton. Way to go, Gracie!
To celebrate big changes coming to our Learner Web program, we're highlighting the volunteers who have made the program possible since 20011. Check in with us everyday to meet our Computer Literacy & Internet Coaches (CLICs) throughout the month of June!
Here's Larry, a CLIC since April 2011, which is just about when the program began. Thank you for helping us bridge the digital divide in Austin, Larry!