Spring 2014 - Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
S p r i n g
2 0 1 4
M a k i n g
D i f f e r e n c e
M a k i n g
C h a n g e
VOCAL N EWS
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
On the Road We Go …!
This year marked the 23rd Annual On the Road to Literacy
Conference, held at UIC’s Center for Literacy on Saturday,
April 12th with conference co-sponsors LVI & UIC relying
heavily, once again, on their VOCAL and Project MORE
AmeriCorps members to assist with the event.
at UIC auditorium.
Over 200 staff, volunteers, and adult learners from literacy
programs throughout the Chicago-area came to the conference
in anticipation of gaining new perspectives on contemporary
literacy topics, as well as hearing creative teaching and learning
strategies from a few of the 24 workshops offered that day.
The morning kicked off with a brief welcoming session,
led by Maureen Meehan, PhD, the Director of Community
Programs at UIC’s Center for Literacy.
leads her Low Level
(C) Kathryn Norregaard attends,
Cultural Literacy Awareness
(L) John McLeod;
Nominator, Debbie Bradt,
Mike Bradt - Tutor of the
Year, & Maureen Meehan
(L) Dorothy Miaso;
Marty Gabriel Partner of the Year,
& Maureen Meehan
Two rounds of workshops that offered topics such as Getting
Around with Reading, Letters and the Sounds They Make,
Smart Phones in the ESL Classroom and Yoga for Learning followed. Those sessions ran smoothly into lunch,
where many attendees participated in one of the five table topic discussions while eating. Afterward, it was the
third and final round of workshops that featured among other topics Your Library and You !, What’s Your
Learning Style, and Helping Adult Learners Accomplish Their Goals. The workshops, which included as
presenters VOCAL alums, Emily Tolzmann – Teaching Low Literacy-Level ESL Students and David Sweeney–
Techniques to Getting Your Students Writing Today, received rave reviews.
Finally, it was time to reconvene as a group for the closing session. The auditorium was full and the audience
hummed with excitement from the day’s activities. LVI’s Executive Director, Dorothy Miaso, welcomed the
group, and introduced the event’s Keynote Speaker, Rick Pearson, Political Writer for the Chicago Tribune and
Host of WGN Radio’s Sunday Spin. His remarks, which focused on our being informed voters and an engaged
electorate touched on all four components of language – Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing.
The awards ceremony followed with John McLeod, LVI’s Treasurer, and UIC’s Maureen Meehan, presenting
certificates, plaques, and gifts to the volunteer tutors whose efforts were being recognized. – Nineteen as
Outstanding Tutors and one Tutor of the Year, Mike Bradt of School and Tutors on Wheels in LaGrange Park.
Marty Gabriel, Director of Local 601 of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, was recognized as
LVI’s Partner of the Year, for all of the support that he has provided in presenting LVI’s annual SCRABBLE for
Literacy Challenge, now in its 11th year.
Thanks to all who attended and made this year’s On the Road Conference a great success! A special word of
thanks goes out to the VOCAL members who assisted with breakfast set-up and registration, served as workshop
monitors, and made tutor nominations. Thanks also to the Project MORE members who assisted with lunch
distribution, directions and a variety of other onsite tasks.
From the Executive Director …
Dorothy M. Miaso
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
Layout and Design
Literacy Volunteers of Illinois
30 East Adams, Suite 1130
Chicago, IL 60603
Been Missing VOCAL News ?
So much has happened since our last edition of VOCAL News – a new year
began, MLK Service Activities were held, three training sessions were
presented, the quarterly member meeting convened, National Volunteer Week
occurred, and the annual On the Road to Literacy Conference was planned and
presented. No wonder it was tough to get a newsletter out. This edition of
VOCAL News highlights some of those activities, as well as four corps
members and the three sites at which they serve. We hope to be back on track
with VOCAL News for the rest of this program year, so watch future editions for
those members and sites that have not been featured yet.
We were recently notified by the Serve Illinois Commission that we have been
awarded competitive funding from the Corporation for National and Community
Service for the VOCAL program. The award is based on a three-year cycle,
renewed annually, based on performance. Our two primary objectives, both
which are in Economic Development will remain the same - 1) Adult Literacy
Instruction – One-to-one, small group and/or classroom in basic literacy, ESL or
GED; and, 2) Job Placement – job coaching and counseling, job club services,
job development and placement, resume development assistance, and/or
workplace behavior and other skills training. Our two secondary objectives of
volunteer recruitment and support & member development also remain the same.
A Few Thank You’s
In addition to the four MLK projects described within, a big thank you goes
to the team that spruced up the
LVI office. The paint job looks
terrific ! Thanks also to Gordon’s
Ace Hardware for the 12 gallons
of paint they supplied and to our
other MLK Day donors - Trader
Joe’s who supplied much of the
Ingredients for lunch at the Ronald
McDonald House and Costco for
The painting crew raise the AmeriCorps
the breakfast goods used at the
– from left Erlinda (front), Delvin,
Lincoln Park Community Center.
Megan, Shanicka, Tanika, Dave, Phoenix
Thank you also each of the project
and Thania. A superb job !
leaders for your extra efforts in
advance of the day and our former member, Megan McNabb, who guided the
overall efforts and led donation requests.
Corps Changes - Welcome and Farewell
New members have joined us in the last several months – Josh Barrile, Leonard
Stadler and George Wright at IYC-Harrisburg, Ron Happach (renewal) and Etta
LaFlora at IYC-Kewanee, Anna Simmons at IYC-Warrenville, and, Alyssa
Loeffelman at The Pui Tak Center. Three completed service – Trudye Connolly
at LVI, Abbey Kornhauser at Centro Romero, and Evelyn Martinez at IYCHarrisburg. And, we said “good-bye” to Shanicka Burdine, who left early due to
a serious illness in her family.
MLK Day in Review
Ronald McDonald House in Chicago’s Streeterville
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said “Everybody can be great, because everyone can
serve.” This proved true for us at the Ronald McDonald House Charities near Lurie
Children’s Hospital. I had the honor of leading the project along with special help
from my Grandma, Carole Strock! A delicious menu of: Caesar & other salads, garlic bread,
homemade “Strock” lasagna with a vegetarian option, cookies, ice cream along with soda and water
was presented. The day prior, we shopped for ingredients and pre-prepped the lasagna. Upon arrival, our team of
11 prepared and served every aspect of the lunch to the families and children staying at the House who were very
appreciative. Many compliments were received and few left-overs were placed in the community refrigerator !
Our day ended with reflection over a late lunch at the famous Billy Goat Tavern, popularized by the Belushi
Saturday Night Live Skit - “cheezeborger, cheezeborger, cheezeborger—no Pepsi…Coke!” In the spirit of service
and Dr. King, a wonderful experience was had by all.
Elizabeth Wackerlin, LVI
The Meaning of Service at Lincoln Park Community Shelter
Early Monday morning, Chloe, Kathryn, Abbey and Zoe arrived at the Lincoln Park
Community Shelter to prepare a bountiful breakfast for nearly thirty shelter members.
As they crisped the bacon, roasted the potatoes, flipped the pancakes, scrambled the
eggs and prepared a fruit salad - they were joined by a surprise guest, Serve Illinois
executive director Brandon Bodor, who assisted in the preparation, serving and breakfast clean-up.
All of the patrons were incredibly grateful for our services with some interested in learning more about the
programs offered by LVI. The breakfast provided a forum for us to connect with members of the community
who we might not have otherwise encountered. Thank you to the shelter for hosting the members, Brandon
Bodor for his assistance, the gracious ingredients’ donors (especially Costco Wholesale) and the individuals
at the shelter for welcoming us into their community.
Chloe Dautch & Kathryn Norregaard, World Relief
Illinois Youth Centers Contribute to Dr. King’s Legacy through Writings, Drawings and Poems
At IYC - Harrisburg the Jump Start program organized a
combined MLK/Black History month contest in which
students were asked to draw an influential figure in Black
History such as Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglas, Abraham
Lincoln, or Muhammad Ali; write an essay using those
same figures; or write a poem using those figures or their
own lives. The contest began on MLK Day and ended on
February 28th, the end of Black History month.
At IYC-St. Charles, Jump Start hosted a
contest in which the boys could write a 100
word essay, pen a poem, or draw a picture
about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to be
submitted by January 16th.
There were nine entries and three grand prize winners; all
were treated to pizza and the movie Pride - a true story of
African-American schoolteacher frustrated by his inability
to find a job repairs an abandoned pool in hopes of
starting Philadelphia's first African-American swim team
– was viewed. The grand prize winners were also given a
bag of toiletries' that included body wash and shampoo
and their projects are on display in the School Library.
With much anticipation, nineteen entries
were received – six poems, seven drawings
and six essays. Some of the boys turned in
entries in multiple categories in an effort to
improve their chances of winning. It was
obvious that a lot of thought and hard work
went into their submissions and we are very
proud of the young men who participated.
Judging took place on January 21st and on
February 7th; the winners in each category
enjoyed a pizza party with Jump Start staff.
- Joshua Barrile, IYC-Harrisburg
- Steffanie Stuckey, IYC-St. Charles
March Quarterly Member Meeting
Members convened for their Second Quarterly Meeting on Friday March 7th at LVI. Although the weather had been
brutal and unkind to this winter everyone seemed energized in part by seeing one another. As members shared their
respective reports they became transfixed with each other as the highs and lows of their past six months of service
Some of the areas reported included: One-to-one, small group and
classroom instruction in English as a Second Language and Adult
Literacy, tutor recruitment & management, job search counseling
and assistance and after school programming. IYC-Kewanee,
program coordinator, Deb Sundberg started off reports with a
trinity of past and present members. Phoenix Forbes discussed
an anti-bullying seminar at her site for the Indo American Center,
which was designed to begin a dialogue on crisis prevention for area
youth. Phoenix also shared a heartfelt story about a student who came
forward for a friend who exhibited symptoms of a troubled existence.
VOCAL Member, Martha OchoaNebolsky; (Back wearing glasses)
shares a funny story with the group.
Martha Ochoa-Nebolsky spoke of teaching adult learners computer literacy at Centro Romero and having the
patience of Job because sometimes her students require more of her time, if only for the sake of wanting her caring
attentive nature. She also spoke of an older married couple who come regularly and admonish each other so much
that she has to let them work it out although they are never disruptive it’s just how they process and learn the
material that she presents.
At the Anixter Center where Megan George serves she reported that matching volunteer tutors with students can be
an arduous task because the population that Anixter serves are individuals with significant disabilities. It’s a
challenge because Megan has to contact students via their counselors or social workers versus directly which
requires a lot of follow up causing the tutors to wait a little longer for a match. She says a highlight comes in the
form of humor, the laugh-with-you kind. She shared how in one of her classes randomly a student will scream out,
“Megan did you know that…” which gets a dialogue going taking the students off task but the spontaneity of it she
noted keeps her upbeat and glad to serve every day.
The member dialogue continued in the afternoon with the Meaning
of Service tradition. Returning facilitator, Maya Marshall (VOCAL ’09)
led a spirited discussion on William Carlos Williams’s, The Use of Force,
a selection from The Civically Engaged Reader edited by Adam Davis,
who on behalf of the Center for Civic Reflection spearheaded the Meaning
of Service movement. Members continued talking about merits of the story
well after the discussion ended. The day concluded with general
announcements, paperwork and on a good note with members looking
ED, Dorothy Miaso, concluded the meeting
forward to their next six months of service.
with final program announcements.
- Chamala Travis, VOCAL AmeriCorps Program Coordinator
LINCS is a professional learning community for adult
educators that provides access to resources, professional
development, and a connected network of practitioners. http://lincs.ed.gov/
First Friday Training
Members looked forward to the January 3rd training,
which was Instructional Design led by Filtod Walker,
who prior to the session had us research topics such as
goal-setting, work/life balance, and transparency. In
preparing our research, we considered questions like
“How does someone develop this skill?” and “Why is
knowledge of this skill useful as a teacher or as a
leader?” Impressed upon us was the need to keep track
of facts and insights from our sources and be ready to
cite where we found our information. In the morning
session in groups of three and following a guide
provided we assisted one another in designing a lesson.
In the afternoon we learned of effective tools and
exercises to plan a successful workshop, including
relevant stories, wall and table races, and the important
“Peak-End Rule.” The hope is that with these tools,
we can organize an event that is not only educational,
but entertaining and memorable. With this framework
in mind, we again separated into groups based on
specific issues that included immigration,
incarceration, and poverty, and planned our own
workshops. By going through each step, from an
icebreaker to the questions an audience may ask, we
saw that creating a workshop may not be as daunting
of a task as previously thought. We then met together
to discuss each plan and comment on ideas that would
After this exercise, each member gave a 3-minute
impromptu speech based on a passion they named at
the beginning of the day. From social justice to body
positivity, Filtod gave everyone a random prompt they
had to discuss by telling a story about the issue,
describing what it meant, and what can be taken away
from it. We were then feedback and rated on what we
did well and could work on.
February’s training was on Cultural Literacy,
which is an understanding of cultural
backgrounds and where our students are in
acculturation or culture shock – essential skills
for being sensitive to needs in where our students
come from and where they are transitioning too.
main categories of cultural differences were
highlighted: formal v. informal, direct v. indirect,
expressive v. neutral, low context v. high context,
and contact v. non-contact. An example presented
was a student from a formal country would likely
prefer using honorific and last names; where as a
student from an informal country would use first
names. Identifying cultural characteristics can go
a long way in making our students’ feel welcome.
Also covered were the five stages of culture
awareness. First, euphoria as they see their new
culture. Second, rejection as they see the values
differ from theirs. This is followed by regression
where they will tend to try and find a way to stick
to their own culture or cluster of cultures. After
that is acculturation where they join or reject the
new culture. The final stage is reintegration,
which only happens when going from their new
culture back to their original. Knowing where
your student is in the stages of acculturation will
let you know what they are going through.
One memorable speech was given by Del, who has a
passion for baking, who spread the knowledge that “a
kind deed is good, but a cookie is better.” Jokes aside,
this was a great training that made me and hopefully
everyone more comfortable about implementing
The workshop ended, as they generally do, with
public speaking practice as a part of the on-going
Language and Literacy Leadership Series. There
was a musical chair exercise to practice getting
someone's attention. Then we had two practice
speeches to give; one memorizing a speech while
the second had us speaking in a panel or group.
- David Anians, Instituto del Progreso Latino
- Delvin Mason, APCC
Member Spotlight: Howard
Howard Area Community Center
Mensah is from Chicago.
She studied at the University
of Illinois – Champaign/Urbana.
Before joining AmeriCorps, she
held a variety of jobs including
working at a library, serving as
an Alderman’s intern and clerking
for a law firm in Champaign. She joined
AmeriCorps because she believed it was a good
opportunity to learn about service first-hand.
At the Howard Area Community Center, Jennifer
is an adult basic education and literacy tutor
advisor. The rewards of her job are many, she
say, but the biggest is seeing potential in students
and then watching them achieve their goals such
as obtaining their GED. The biggest challenge is
working with the tutors and helping them deal
with and accept their disappointment when their
students don’t show up for their session.
Jennifer says she loves her position and her site.
AmeriCorps has given her an opportunity to
learn, she says,
and she can’t think there’s any
better way to serve her community. She’s never
thought of herself as a teacher but the more
teaching she does, the more comfortable she is
with it and can see it as a possible career choice.
When not working, Jennifer is partial to anything
that keeps her physically active like dancing or
running or participating in her workout classes.
She also likes cooking and writing. Above all,
she likes meeting new people.
After Jennifer’s service with AmeriCorps ends,
she plans on continuing her education. She is not
sure what her future holds but says that it
probably will be working for a non-profit.
Jennifer believes that helping others is probably
the most important thing you can do in life.
The importance of literacy, Jennifer believes,
cannot be overstated. She says it improves
peoples’ lives and creates opportunities for them
in ways they can’t imagine. Jennifer believes her
work at the Howard Community Center and
seeing the successes and progress of her students
makes it the best job she’s ever had.
Theresa Hale is from Williamsburg, VA.
She attended Kalamazoo College in
Kalamazoo, Michigan. She chose that
school because of its reputed study
abroad program. Through their
Teaching Assistantship Program, she
was able to do a stint teaching English
in a small town, Lens Pas-de-Calais, in
Northern France, from October through May 2012.
At Howard Area Community Center she serves as
an ESL tutor and advisor. She says the biggest
reward of her work is tackling the unexpected,
dealing with whatever occurs that, more often than
not, is not in her position description. The biggest
challenge she says that she faces is to constantly
think of creative and innovative ways to teach, and
recruit tutors. Theresa believes because her
responsibilities go beyond routine tasks she might
find in an ordinary job, she is getting experience that
will serve her well in the future.
One of the many things she likes about being in the
Howard Area Community Center is that she can
keep up her fluency in French since many of the
students come from West Africa and Haiti. She also
is an avid fan of French movies and of reading
books in French. Prior to AmeriCorps, her
experience included a six month study in Seneca,
After her AmeriCorps service, Theresa has only a
general idea of what she might do. She is interested
in education and hopes to go back to school to study
public policy and education reform. Her view is that
whatever she does it will have to be in a service
position and one in which she can give back.
Howard Area Community Center
is a multi-service, community-based agency
located on the far north side in Rogers Park.
HACC’s mission is to assist low-income
individuals and families in Rogers Park to stabilize their lives
and develop the social skills necessary to be effective
community members. Programs include: education and
employment, home visiting for parents with young children,
center-based early childhood education, social services,
youth development, and alternative high school.
Spotlights Continue on Page 7
Member Spotlight: Continued
Megan George is from
Portland, Oregon. She
graduated from IllinoisWesleyan in Bloomington, IL
with a major in environmental
studies. After a brief summer
vacation visiting her family,
she joined AmeriCorps in
September 2013. AmeriCorps
appealed to her because she felt it would present
an opportunity for training in a job that would
give her more responsibility than one would
typically get in an entry level position. Megan
says she has had a long-standing interest in
social service and joining AmeriCorps.
Megan serves at the Anixter Center; her title is
simply AmeriCorps member. She works with the
literacy coordinator who is a former AmeriCorps
member. While she is a one-to-one tutor, much
of her time is spent in program coordination. Her
responsibility is to match adult clients who have
disabilities with tutors and thereby facilitate the
Anixter mission of helping people live fuller and
happier lives. The biggest reward of her service
says Megan, is that she works with clients on a
daily basis and can watch their progress. The
biggest challenge is teaching, which Megan says
she now believes is one of the most “difficult
tasks in the world.” She cites the preparation that
goes into teaching and the constant challenge of
keeping it fun as well as entertaining.
The two most salient and
defining things to know
about Phoenix Forbes,
which means life after
death, is that the name
was legally adopted in
2007. The second thing
is that Phoenix does not
want to be identified as
male or female and wishes instead to
be referred to as “they.”
After receiving a B.A. from Oberlin with majors
in English and Spanish literature, followed by
earning a Master’s in secondary education from
Loyola, Phoenix became an AmeriCorps member
this past November and serves at the Indo
Phoenix considers the site a perfect place to learn
about serving and says the biggest rewards of this
job is seeing students advance and improve in
their studies. The biggest challenge is dealing
with behavior problems. The students range from
kindergarten to eighth grade.
After AmeriCorps service ends, Megan says she
hasn’t decided what’s next. She says she likes
meeting people and having new experiences and
whatever she does next will include both.
Phoenix professes to having once liked teaching
and even considered it as a career but now prefers
to find a teaching role that is more like coaching.
When not at the Indo American Center, Phoenix
likes to work with “found objects’ things that
might be found in garbage or a thrift store to
create works of art. Phoenix says that this unusual
artistic endeavor is identical to wanting to be
called ‘they” because it puts the subject forward
in a new and different way and asks merely for
The Anixter Center’s mission is to
enhance the ability of individuals living
with or at risk of disabilities to live,
learn ,work and play in the community.
Each year, at dozens of locations across
greater Chicago, the Center provides an array of services
including education, employment, life skills,
communication, recreation, health care, counseling, and
support. Most who receive services have a significant
disability – physical, intellectual, develop-mental, sensory,
psychiatric, and many have more than one.
The Indo American Center (IAC)
Was established in 1990 to respond to
the wide range of needs within Chicago’s
south Asian immigrant population.
IAC strives to help clients become
empowered and connected through a range of
educational programs, resources and social services in
nine areas: Citizenship and Immigration, Adult Literacy,
Civics Education, Senior Citizens, Youth, Computer
Education, Public Benefits Assistance, Workforce
Development and a Legal Clinic.
Friday, June 6th
June Quarterly Member Meeting
9:00 am – 4:30 pm
July 1—You can no longer use magnetic stripe cards. Pace
customers paying with cash will no longer be issued a
Transfer Card. All customers will be transitioned to
Ventra is an open fare payment system that accepts
multiple forms of payment.
You can easily obtain a Ventra contactless card that can
be loaded with money to pay per ride or with unlimitedride 1-Day, 3-Day, 7-Day and 30-Day Passes—it's your
Or, you can pay by directly touching your personal,
contactless bankcard (look for the contactless payment
symbol () on the back of your card). Just touch your card
and go for point to point rides; or, have your personal
bankcard act as your fare card by loading money onto it
at vending machines, allowing you to take advantage of
passes or discounted transfers when you travel. For more
information about the transition visit
July - TBA
White Sox Summer Fun
Time - TBA
US Cellular Field
Thursday, August 14th
Illinois Conference on Volunteer
Administration – ICOVA
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Blvd.
Friday, August 22nd
End of the Year Celebration
Time and Location
Summer Film Series
June 24-August 29 (Tuesdays)
Belated Birthday Wishes
Chicago Blues Festival
Taste of Chicago
Chicago Air and Water Show
August 16 & 17
North Avenue Beach
Chicago Jazz Festival
Cultural Center, Millennium Park & Grant Park