Rozeta Tosuni, student
''Please let us know how we can be helpful''.
That's what they said when I first got in contact with Project Literacy. I was a student of this program for three and an half years and I finished last December. Words are not enough to describe how much they have done for me. At a difficult time when so much was mew for me and I understood so little of the English Language they were the source of support I needed.
Project Literacy is a wonderful program. Working one on one and focusing on student's individual needs makes this program a success. The dedicated staff members and volunteers are doing a great job of helping others. I am especially thankful for my teacher Mr. Paul Talarico. He is very kind and knowledgeable person who always encouraged me to learn more and work hard. Beside helping me to improve my English, he taught me about American history, different cultures and customs, how to behave at work and much more.
I feel thankful to have been a student of Project Literacy. It has made a big difference in my life, and I really appreciate everyone's help.
A senior citizen, I had no experience in ESL, but I wanted to try. Have always enjoyed meeting people from other countries and getting to know them and their cultures. The Project Literacy has been a wonderful experience for me. I've been with it for a little over a year and only regret that I cannot put more time into it. My students have been eager and very open. All the people running the Project and the volunteers have been encouraging and generous in their attitude towards both the students, and volunteer tutors like myself. As the Chinese leader says, "it's win win," all around. I thank everyone involved in the project and you, dear reader, for any support you are able to give.
Long ago when I learned of American born adults in our area who couldn’t read or write, I was quite surprised, and disturbed. This was over thirty years ago. I decided that I would like to do something about that and was put in touch with Literacy Volunteers of America (LVA). When working with this organization throughout New Jersey as a volunteer, and then a paid staff person, I learned to train volunteer tutors to work 1 – 1 with adults in teaching basic reading. As the years went by, people from other countries came to live in our country and many settled in our community. Of course these people lacked English-speaking skills, so I learned how to train volunteers to teach English as a Second Language (ESL). Inspired by the adult learners and the enthusiasm of the trained volunteers, I soon began to establish LVA- approved affiliates in counties throughout northern New Jersey. After a while I decided that I wanted to strengthen adult literacy services in my own community of Bergen County. So I met with the director of the Bergen Community College Adult Learning Center in Hackensack, and the idea of starting Project Literacy was born. A task force was established which soon evolved into a board of directors and Project Literacy gained non-profit status. Under our leadership, the group undertook raising awareness of adult literacy needs and services in the Bergen County area. With the growing need to provide 1 -1 tutoring to adults in basic literacy, Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County eventually developed their own tutoring program, which was designed after the LVA model of quality training and support of the volunteer tutors and students.
At present Project Literacy’s dedicated staff works tirelessly in working to increase awareness of literacy needs and for a more literate Bergen County.
Needless to say there are expenses in order for the organization to function. The need for Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County is here to stay. There is a lot of work to do because there are a lot of adults in need of 1 – 1 tutoring in basic reading, writing, math and spoken English by trained volunteers. The tutoring sessions are free to the adult learner.
Now, when I visit the Project Literacy area, it is heart warming for me to see pairs of individuals sitting at tables and bent over a book, studying a paper, speaking softly – I recognize them as a tutor-student pair. But most of the time I cannot tell which one is the tutor and which one is the student. It is truly a beautiful sight.
I have been volunteering with Project Literacy for a year and a half. I'm working with an American born young man who , due to personal problems, had to leave school early in his middle school years. Because of that, this bright young man , needed help to improve his reading and writing with a goal of obtaining his High School Equivalency diploma.
As I work with my student I realize the great job that our public schools do in teaching reading and writing and how fortunate I was to be able to attend such schools. I no longer take that education for granted.
I look forward to our weekly sessions and take pride in the improvement that my student has made. He has passed the reading portion of his High School Equivalency and will be taking the other sections very soon.
I am fortunate to have worked with Project Literacy at two periods of my life, once as a young mother and now as a retiree. My first experience was with a Vietnamese family and now a with a woman from Syria. The value for me and I think for them has been very signifant. I have seen great progress with my friend and student from Syria. Though I have to give much of the credit to Bergen County Community College for their ESL program, I also feel the one on one contact has helped my student feel more secure with the materials presented from the college and helped her navigate day to day life with more confidence. It has been an enriching experience for me as I have had a personal look at what it means to be an immigrant coming to the United States today and the hardships people face as they try to navigate this country and not leave their families behind who are living in foreign countries. The staff in Hackensack have been very helpful in setting me up with a student and providing me with materials and information to proceed.
I volunteered with Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County during my mid 20s when I was searching for an outlet to somehow give back to my community. I was a young professional with a great career and looking for ways I could impact someone's life, the same way others have down for me along the way. I found the group online and enjoyed the fact that it operated out of the safety and convenience of the Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County. The staff there sent me up with 2 students during my approx 6 to 9 month volunteering with the program, and I really enjoyed the enthusiasm that the students brought to every learning session. We would work on math problems from their GED prep books and I would often counsel them on on study habits and helpful test taking strategies. I very proud and also humbled to say that out of the 2 students that I worked with, successfully did go on to pass his GED.
I am married now and my years with organization have passed, but this story in retrospect continues to warm my heart and I hope this group continues to get the funding that they deserve to keep making a difference in Bergen County.
The phrase "Reading is Fundamental" couldn't be more true . Not being able to read reduces a person's life options. We support Project Literacy because they help their students change their lives and achieve their dreams.
As a board member, I posted a review for Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County two years ago and continue to be consistently impressed by the training, volunteers' enthusiasm, and dedication of staff. Everyone connected to this organization is deeply committed to the goal of empowering people with the gifts of literacy and language. Here are just a few of the things people can achieve through Project Literacy - receiving a high school equivalency diploma, reading a menu, talking to a physician, passing a driving test, getting a better job, receiving a promotion, talking to teachers on Parents' Night, reading to children at bedtime and helping them with their homework, and becoming a citizen. These are just a few of the myriad of ways thousands of lives have been empowered by Project Literacy. Project Literacy doesn't have a big bankroll but it has a big heart.
Now called Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County, as a member of the Board, I have seen how Project Literacy changes the lives of the people who seek help there. Whether it is to work towards a high school equivalency diploma, or to learn to read, or to learn English, Project Literacy is there with a cadre of enthusiastic, qualified tutors teaching newly arrived immigrants or folks who slipped through the cracks of our education system who are now ready to improve their lives, get better jobs, read to their children, become empowered members of their communities. This is an organization that has changed the lives of over 10,000 people who have come through our doors and continues to make a vital difference for the people it serves.
Project Literacy helps people who miss out on the opportunities available to them, the ones we take for granted, because they can't read, write or speak English well enough to get a job, read to their children or grandchildren, get their driver's license or pass their citizenship test. Project Literacy has provided free one-on-one tutoring by trained tutors to over 7000 students for the past thirty years. They exist solely on donations and grants and are always grateful for any donations that come in. They have a highly dedicated staff that matches volunteer tutors and students, provides coaching to the tutors and sometimes, when the need is there, in addition to their jobs, act as social workers, job placement counselors and therapists in order to help the students as much as they can.
I have seen various students meet their goals. Some of these goals you and I take for granted, these students do not. Sometimes a high school diploma, American citizenship or a license to drive, may have been dreams, now they become reality with Project Literacy. The tutors diligently work with the students to meet their individual needs and build upon their strengths.
I was given the chance to partake as a tutor in this wonderful organization two and a half years ago, and I'm grateful daily for the opportunity to meet and work with students who are committed to developing their reading, writing, and language skills.
Chris Stout, Antonio Brugnoli, and Larry Braverman are dedicated in their mission to support both the students, and tutors in providing this quality service to the community. It is my pleasure to be a team member and take part in this mission. Martha Scannell, Volunteer/Tutor
It’s hard to believe that around 20% of Bergen County, NJ residents are illiterate. My student was born in a country where it’s not common to educate girls so she never attended school. When she moved to the U.S. in her late teens, marrying and starting a family was her priority – getting an education was not. It wasn’t until decades later that she grew tired of missing out and decided to learn to read and write.
When she walked into the door of Project Literacy, her life began to change.
We’ve been working together for four years, during which time her motivation and passion to learn has not waivered. Now she’s able to read to her granddaughter, a dream she never thought possible before. Here is how she described it to me: “Before it was all dark. Now I see light.”
Had she not had access to a free resource like Project Literacy, she’d still be living in darkness. Project Literacy helps hundreds of residents like my student improve their situations through reading. Literacy not only transforms the student’s life, but changes lives of generations to come.
Project Literacy of Greater Bergen County is an invaluable resource, not only for people seeking literacy in English, but also for people wishing to obtain their High School Equivalency diploma. I've been fortunate to have worked with this organization for the past six years as a math tutor. The support provided by the staff, coupled with the enthusiasm of the students, creates a positive, rewarding experience. Somehow this organization is able to maximize its minimal resource and focus on what counts, the students.
Anastasio was handcuffed in the courthouse, because he walked through a door marked “Do Not Enter”. A new immigrant, he couldn’t speak or read English, but after only one year working with a Project Literacy tutor, Anastasio now holds down a job and is studying for the New Jersey driver’s license test, all in English. This is an example of the fine work this group does for individuals and the communities in which they live.
Project Literacy of Bergen county is engaged in unlocking human potential that is trapped due to lack of English language skills. These adults with diverse backgrounds, skills, education and socio-economic status are powerless without the means to share and communicate their unique gifts. Through the large network of compassionate and dedicated literacy volunteers, trainers, administration and board, this non profit is chipping away at the huge handicap of illiteracy in Greater Bergen county and thus allowing an avenue for adults to become productive and grow into meaningful contributors of society in their chosen professions.The Board and Administration is working hard to continuously improve itself to serve efficiently and effectively. Having been in the field of adult education for several decades and as a member of the board, i have found that giving the gift of language skills is one of the most powerful ways to empower people. Refer, volunteer or become a tutor today to give the gift of a lifetime!