Susan Beebe

It is with great fondness and sincere appreciation that we say goodbye to long term Literacy Source volunteer, Susan Beebe. After over 7 dedicated years (nearly 900 hours!) of volunteering in our citizenship program here at Literacy Source, Susan has decided to hang up this riding crop and move on to new ventures in her life. 

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When she first joined Literacy Source in March 2010, Susan said she wanted to volunteer here as she "valued the importance of literacy for self-reliance, and wanted to feel she was helping in a meaningful way."  It is our sincere hope that by becoming a cornerstone in our citizenship program, faithfully returning every year to teach the citizenship class, witnessing numerous students from her class become new US citizens, and pledging allegiance to her country too many times to mention, that Susan achieved her goal.

We are sad to see her go but are so grateful for her commitment over the years, her thoughtful teaching approach, and her care and enthusiasm for helping students succeed in the citizenship program.

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With our heartfelt thanks we wish you all the best Susan, from all of us here at Literacy Source, good luck!

Melissa Lu

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Melissa has been volunteering since June 2016 and has donated 75 hours to Literacy Source as an ESOL tutor! She answered a few questions for us:

Where are you originally from?

Born and raised in Seattle!

Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.

I'm currently a student right now and finishing up my prerequisites for nursing school. 

Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?

I liked the different programs that LS offered students and volunteers. I thought it would be a great way to branch out and try something new. 

What do you like about volunteering at LS?

The students at LS are so wonderful and eager to learn. It's great to be around students that challenge the way you think and are incredibly motivated especially since most work full time jobs and have children!

Any stories or highlights from volunteering at LS?

You meet so many different people. It can be difficult to choose a favorite story!

What might people not know about you?

Even though I love meeting new people and being surrounded by people, I am very shy. It's a very strange inner dichotomy to deal with.

Thank you Melissa for all your time and commitment to our learners.

Stephanie Anderson

Literacy Source tutor coordinator at the King County Jail, Liz Wurster, began offering the UW Inner Pipeline Course "Education in the Criminal Justice System" in the fall of 2016. Stephanie started tutoring as a part of this course, but has decided to continue on as a community tutor after graduating from UW. She has worked with five students over the past nine months, moving two of them through all four tests and becoming graduates!  Stephanie has shown a great deal of patience and determination, finding creative ways to break down many of the educational barriers our students experience and connecting with them in a way that really shows results. An applied mathematics major at UW, she is considered our "math guru;" we bring her in for students that are struggling to pass the math as their final test, and she gets the job done! She took the time to answer some of our questions:

Where are you originally from? If you’re not from Seattle what brought you here?

I'm from Tacoma and moved up to Seattle to attend the University of Washington.

Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.

I just graduated with a degree in Applied and Computational Mathematical Sciences and am working towards a job where I can apply this math and computer science background.

Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?

I discovered the opportunity of tutoring at KCCF because I needed a couple more credits for school and it was being offered for credit as a UW class through the Pipeline Project. However the reason I decided to do it was because I knew it would be such a unique experience that I wouldn't get anywhere else and would be much more enriching that another lecture style class. I've enjoyed it so much though that even though I'm not getting credit for it I've continued on as a volunteer.

What do you like about volunteering at KCCF?

I like that the work we're doing is actually making a difference in people's lives. On the rare occasion that you have a student complete all four sections of the GED, it is incredibly rewarding. For someone to go from not being a high school graduate to having their GED, that does wonders for their future because it opens up so many more possibilities for them.

Any stories or highlights from volunteering at KCCF?

One of my highlights from volunteering at KCCF was a conversation I had with one of my students. He was one of the two students I have worked with that passed every section of the GED. One day he started asking me about computer science and how that related to math. It turned into a conversation about his goals for the future and how he wanted to attend college when he got released. As a tutor, you have to be careful about the kind of conversations you have with the inmates, but this was the most genuine conversation I had with any of my students and it was a good reminder for both of us that obtaining a GED is a significant accomplishment that can positively impact a person's future, if they continue to work hard.

What might people not know about you?

I love to play volleyball, flag football and ultimate frisbee, as well as spend time with family and friends.

Evening Office Managers

If you've visited the Lake City Learning Center at night, chances are you've met one or more of our amazing volunteer Evening Office Managers (EOMs) working at the front desk! EOMs are an indispensable part of Literacy Source - without them, we would not be able to keep the center open at night. They greet students and volunteers, answer the phone, complete important administrative and cleaning tasks, and help close the center at night.

Let's get to know a little bit about each volunteer:

 

Susan Arnett: Mondays since April 2017

What brought you to Literacy Source? I was looking for an opportunity to serve in my community that involved helping our immigrant and English-as-a-second-language residents. I’ve lived overseas and know firsthand what it’s like to try and get by in a country where you are still learning the language. Also, I work in communications and I believe that the ability to read/write/understand effectively any language is always beneficial and can open up many opportunities in our lives.

What's your favorite thing to do in Seattle? I grew up in this area and love the trees, the lakes, and even the rain. I enjoy walking my dog in any weather. I also love graphic design, art, reading and discovering new music.

What might people not know about you? My dog was adopted from Iran. Her name is Shabnam, which means “morning dew” in Farsi.

 

Meghann Seiler: Tuesdays since December 2016

What brought you to Literacy Source? I had been looking for a way to become more involved in supporting immigrant populations in Seattle and once I had learned about the many adult education programs offered by Literacy Source, I was excited to contribute in whatever small way I could to this great community. 

What's your favorite thing to do in Seattle? I love a day in Seattle that begins at the farmer's market shopping for fresh produce, and that ends with cooking a large meal for friends and family. This kind of day is great in any weather or season. 

What might people not know about you? My first and middle names were inspired by 1980s romance novel villains, my mom was a huge reader with a good sense of humor, I like to think I have inherited both traits from her! 

 

Joanna Bachmann: Wednesdays since September 2016

What brought you to Literacy Source? I found LS through some neighborhood connections. We just moved to Lake City last year, and I appreciate the group's mission to support the community! Learning together and appreciating everyone's unique story is so valuable!

What's your favorite thing to do in Seattle? Seattle has so much to do - I enjoy gardening because everything grows here. This is so different from my last city, Denver. Seeing everything green and growing is so refreshing... in my garden, in our neighborhoods, and in the mountains. 

What might people not know about you? People may not know I took vocal and improv comedy classes. I'm not an expert at either. But, the classes were such a fun way to have fun and laugh more. 

 

Andrea Ondrušek: Thursdays since December 2016

What brought you to Literacy Source? When I came to Seattle two and half years ago, I was not able to speak English and I made many mistakes. I was very happy when I found a non-profit organization, Goodwill, that offered ESOL classes for FREE. I studied there for 6 months. One year ago I moved to Lake City and found out that Literacy Source is just two blocks from my house. I got excited to be part of their dedicated work. I said to myself: "Goodwill helped me a lot two years ago and now I have an opportunity to 'pay' it back by volunteering in Literacy Source."   

What's your favorite thing to do in Seattle? I love spending my time on the coast with my husband and our dog Ivy. Since I was born in the Czech Republic, which is located in the middle of Europe, we do not have any sea or bay. We take advantage of Seattle location and spend lots of time on our inflatable boat catching crabs or just picking up oysters in the summer.  

What might people not know about you? I do not like keeping food (e.g. flour) in the original package. I always have to move it to one of my containers. In short, all of my kinds of flour (about 8), all nuts, rice, pasta, quinoa have to be in the glass containers, not in the plastic bag. Even the soap, shower gel, and shampoo have special bottles. I know that it probably sounds crazy but this is my "thing". :)  

EOMs - thank you for the wonderful work that you do, and showing up week after week with smiles on your faces. We couldn't do it without you!    

Mark Taylor

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Where are you originally from, and what brought you here?

I’m originally from Illinois. I was raised and educated in the Chicago area and later moved to Rockford. I had travelled to the NW a number of times and loved the environment and the people. I even preferred the climate, rain and all! So in 1984 I moved here.

Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.

I just retired in March from a diverse nonprofit career. I’ve been a lawyer in a legal aid program, an entrepreneur co-founding a small community movie theater, executive director of two youth-serving agencies in Bellingham, field staff supporting western state affiliates of a large national organization, and grants director for the Alliance for Education in Seattle (from which I just retired). On a very part-time basis I continue my small consulting practice helping nonprofits develop systems for calculating and reporting program metrics and tracking funding.

Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?

I was moved by reports of increasing numbers of refugees and the challenges they face in camps and resettling in new countries (if they’re able to). I had been a Talk Time volunteer for a while in Bellingham, so it seemed natural to get involved in a similar way in Seattle. While few of my students are refugees per se, they all have very interesting and sometimes hair-raising back stories.

What do you like about volunteering at LS?

It gives me a chance to focus on something very different than my usual routine; it gets me outside myself and my to do list. On a practical level, the LS program at the Central Library worked well for me since I worked just a few blocks away and could flex my work hours. The staff is very supportive, accommodating, and appreciative. I heard myself say to someone that it was the best decision I made in 2016! I really enjoy meeting people from so many different countries - so far they include South Sudan, China, Taiwan, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, France, Chile, and Iran. I appreciate discussing the cultural differences with the students. Meeting them also motivates me to learn more about the geography and politics of their countries.

Any stories or highlights from volunteering at LS?

I’ve enjoyed every student I’ve worked with. A particularly enriching experience was working with an Iranian couple who had only been in the U.S. for three weeks when we met. At the end of the quarter, I introduced them to two neighbors of mine who met while they were teaching in Iran in the 1970s before the revolution. They worked there for four years and later married. It’s very meaningful for my former students to meet and develop friendships with Americans who love Iran and are familiar with its rich history, art, and culture. The five of us get together about once a month for dinner.

What might people not know about you?

My parents housed and helped several Vietnamese families resettle after the war in the mid-1970s. I was living away from home, yet the opportunities I had to meet these families and hear their stories made me personally aware of the challenges of immigrating, especially for refugees. On the personal side, I love to bicycle, play tennis, and sit on the front porch gabbing with neighbors. It’s a great place for hearing (and telling) tall tales!

Dave Langton

Dave is our volunteer spotlight of the month, and has taken the time to answer a few questions. He has volunteered as ABE student Sam Griffin's tutor since Literacy Source came to Lake City. He has now moved on to pursue other ambitions, and we're grateful he spent the last year here. We wish Dave a lot of luck in the future!

Where are you originally from? What brought you here?

Originally from Pennsylvania, I moved to Seattle to be with my wife and stepdaughter.

Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.

I've worked and volunteered with individuals and organizations trying to improve access to education, technology, information, and a better quality of life. I'd like to find new ways to keep doing that.

Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?

I liked that Literacy Source is an organization helping adults who don't have the resources currently to continue learning. I wanted to be a part of that. A large percentage of the students are immigrants and refugees so the services provided by Literacy Source feel especially important at this time.

What do you like about volunteering at LS?

The training I received was excellent. The content is full of teaching tips and strategies. The way they teach models the way you'll tutor or teach your student(s). I also enjoyed the experience of tutoring with a student. It was an opportunity to learn more about the student as well as myself.

Any stories or highlights from volunteering at LS?

The highlight for me was to see the students' determination to learn. They came to a tutor session with all the responsibilities of the day on their mind and they still managed to focus on their learning. They developed some amazing strategies to navigate life over the years, but they wanted to keep learning in order to improve their skills. It was inspiring to me.

What might people not know about you?

I've been taking piano lessons, which at times feels like a second language. Being a learner (of music) and a tutor (with Literacy Source) - at the same time - has given me a better understanding of encouragement, patience, and the excitement of learning something new.

Dave (right) is pictured above with his tutoring student, Sam.

Kyle Samuels

We're excited to spotlight volunteer Kyle Samuels this month! She's been at Literacy Source for a year - she started out as a beginning ESOL class assistant, and is now tutoring an ESOL student from Morocco. She took the time to answer a few questions:

Where are you originally from? If you’re not from Seattle what brought you here?

I’m originally from Pennsylvania. I moved to Seattle in 1978 after graduating from college with my boyfriend (now husband of 38 years!), who had family and a job prospect in Seattle, and immediately fell in love with the natural beauty of this part of the world. 

Please share something of your life so far and what you would like to do in the future.

I retired from practicing law about 6 years ago and have done a variety of different kinds of volunteer work since then, but have enjoyed teaching ESOL most of all. I also do some pro bono immigration law through the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, which is a great organization that does such important work in these challenging times. Social justice, including immigrant rights and mental health advocacy, are my passions. 

Why did you choose to volunteer at LS?

I started teaching ESOL beginning learners at Casa Latina in south Seattle but live in the north end of town, so when I heard that LS was moving to Lake City I jumped at the chance to teach closer to home. 

What do you like about volunteering at LS?

I absolutely love getting to know my ESOL 1 students and watch them work hard and gain confidence as their skills grow. They are all so enthusiastic and undaunted by the challenges of learning a new and very difficult language as an adult. 

Any stories or highlights from volunteering at LS?

No one story stands out, but it is always a highlight to celebrate the successes with my students. It’s a great joy to watch.

What might people not know about you?

 My husband and I have one wonderful daughter and two ridiculous dogs. We all enjoy spending time in the mountains. Music and playing the piano are also a big part of my life. 

We are grateful for your passion and dedication to your students, Kyle!

Library Volunteers

Literacy Source’s Lake City Center houses a growing library of over 2,000 books that serves as an important resource for students, volunteers, and staff. Over the years it has become apparent that the card catalog system used to lend books to the Literacy Source community was no longer serving our needs well. With the incredible support of a small group of library volunteers, we are excited to announce that we have completed the transition to an online, automated library catalog and lending system!

Our library volunteers play an important role in helping Literacy Source provide accessible reading materials for our students and instructional resources for our volunteers. Nancy Rauhauser, one of our long-time library volunteers, shared some words about her experience volunteering: “Even though working on the library doesn't put me in direct contact with immigrants much, I like the idea of being around people different than myself. Literacy opens doors for people; I'm happy to make a contribution to that.”

This achievement could not have been accomplished without the amazing effort and dedication of our library volunteers: Nina West, Jolene Vrchota, Nancy Rauhauser, Dave Langton, Jerry Chen, Celia Glover, Haley Erb, and Luise Asif. You can check out the result of their incredible work, our new library catalog, here.

Pictured above: Jolene Vrchota (left) and Nancy Rauhauser (right)