Gift of literacy: Become a volunteer tutor

Do you remember the first book you ever read? Do you remember learning how to read or write? If you do, it is likely you will also remember a special person there next to you — a teacher, a parent, or friend — helping you along the way.

Or, maybe learning was a struggle for you and you didn’t have the support you needed. How would you like to be the one to change this for someone and help them reach their goals? Your gift of time can change a life — including your own.

Gorge Literacy trains and matches volunteer tutors with adult learners in our community who are looking to improve their basic literacy skills including reading, writing, basic math, English conversation and other life and work skills. All they need is an interested tutor willing to share the knowledge and skills that open the door to the world of literacy. Here is what one Gorge Literacy volunteer tutor had to say about her experience.

“I am always inspired by the dedication and willingness (my student) puts into her studies and her ability to integrate new knowledge with what she already knows. I often feel that I have been taught much more than I teach and I am happy that we are able to laugh through our mistakes. The greatest reward is though is our friendship that has developed through the journey of learning.”

Tutoring dedicated adults is an interesting and flexible volunteer job. Matches are individually arranged according to location, schedules and interests of both tutor and learner, and instructional guidance and ongoing support are provided by Gorge Literacy staff.

Gorge Literacy is offering a one-day tutor training Saturday, Aug. 25, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with a break for lunch) at Columbia Gorge Community College in Hood River.

Trainees will explore reasons adult learners enter literacy programs, how adults differ from child learners, information on cultural differences and learning styles, assessing a learner’s needs and setting attainable goals, techniques for working with native English speakers and English speakers of other languages (ESOL), and finally, how to put it all together to create interesting and effective lesson plans. The training is comfortably paced, interactive and fun.

Participants are asked to please pre-register; call 541-506-6043 or email There is no charge for the training.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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