Literacy Volunteers celebrate 30 years in Waldo County

By Denise Pendleton, LVWC Coordinator | Jun 15, 2017
Literacy Volunteers Karen Emery Estey and Carolyn Pressley with English as a second language student Franzdy Simon at the organization's 30th anniversary celebration May 4.

At Belfast Adult Education, on most any day of the week, the voices of Literacy Volunteers and their students can be heard as the activity of tutoring occurs. This mingling of voices immersed in learning partnerships is happening throughout Waldo County in growing numbers, with adults ranging in age from 19 to over 70, building their reading, writing, math, computer and English language skills.

Literacy Volunteers recently commemorated 30 years of providing these tutoring services in Waldo County with a festive gathering hosted by the Waldo County Technical Center and enjoyed by almost a hundred volunteers, adult learners and community advocates,

Through the creation of a special video documentary to mark the anniversary, the stories of what tutors and their learning partners discover together were shared and celebrated.  The positive impact of a student-teacher relationship was highlighted in a presentation by guest speaker Mitch Littlefield, author of “Memories of Shucking Peas,” a collection of stories written because of the encouragement of a middle school English teacher.

The evening program included a buffet-style meal cooked by WCTC students, the opportunity to participate in a “What Reading Means to Me” activity, a Little Libraries information display, the unveiling of the new Literacy Volunteers logo, and the kick-off to the “What is Waldo Reading?” photo-documentary Facebook project.

Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County was founded in 1986 as a nonprofit with an active board whose members dedicated many hours to the group's growth and sustainability.  In 2009, it became a program of Broadreach for five years, before moving to its present home in Belfast Adult Education in 2014. There, LVWC has gained traction as a viable program with one part-time staff member and a growing group of students and volunteers.

Since the move to BAE, the number of learning partnerships have increased on average almost 100 percent, from 10 per month to now over 20 per month. This is made possible by the engaged and dedicated team of over 40 volunteers, its integration into BAE and supplemental support from community funders, such as United Mid Coast Charities.

With the help of its volunteers, LVWC has a new website (, a Facebook page, and the placement of Little Libraries around Waldo County.  Its  first Waldo Reads! Little Library was installed in the fall of 2015 on Bridge Street and six more have been installed around the county since.

The organization is reaching out to promote literacy across the community in a variety of ways — from Little Libraries to tutoring that includes reading and writing for learners at all levels, including emerging readers, students who need help with college papers, and those who need to prep in math or computer skills.

To reach more community members, LVWC plans to partner with even more agencies and organizations serving Waldo County residents. Recent partnerships serve University of Maine Hutchinson Center college students and Work Force Solutions clients. New partner efforts may encompass K-12 classrooms, afterschool programs and health care providers.

Literacy Volunteers provides free tutoring services to adults (ages 18 and older). Trained volunteers work with adults on a one-to-one basis (often in the library and at Belfast Adult Ed), and one-hour learning sessions are scheduled around work and other obligations.

The mission of Literacy Volunteers of Waldo County is to empower adult learners by increasing their literacy skills, improving opportunity through reading, and enhancing a culture of literacy within our community.

For more information about Literacy Volunteers, please contact Literacy Volunteers at 338-3197 or or

Literacy Volunteers tutor team members Ronny Shaw, Dave Smith and Lynn Heasley with student Justin Curtis and his sons, June 30, 2016
Literacy Volunteers tutor Barbara Hutchinson with student Stacy Roe at Belfast Adult Ed graduation, June 1, 2016.
Literacy Volunteer tutor Karen Emery Estey with student Dana Linscott, receiving his high school diploma at Belfast Adult Ed graduation, June 1, 2016
ESL students from TnT Nail Salon in Belfast share holiday songs during a Literacy Volunteers program  Dec. 18, 2016.  From left are Linh Nguyen, Tho  Hong, Tan Ton and Tien Ton.
Literacy Volunteers tutor Anne Allee works with Shannon Davenport, student, June 8, 2016.
Belfast Adult Ed program coordinator Carolyn Haskell, Literacy Volunteers coordinator Denise Pendleton and Joe-Pete Saucier, Belfast Adult Ed intern at the organization's 30th anniversary celebration May 4.
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