Learning was a struggle for Shannon Alke at school, but the one thing she excelled at was reading.
Now, she wants to help other adults in the area with what she was good at and is training to become a volunteer adult literacy tutor with the Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows Katzie Community Literacy Committee (CLC).
"I struggled with learning challenges growing up, but went on to graduate from high school and continued on to take several general studies courses in college and obtained a certificate as a community mental health worker. I had a learning difficulty pertaining to math and physical co-ordination and I know how hard some people have to work to learn," said Alke. "I am looking forward to the training. It may be a challenge as I do not have teaching experience, but I am ready."
Alke said the best gift she can give adult learners is empathy.
"I know the difference a compassionate teacher can bring," Alke said.
The volunteers will train for 33 hours before they start tutoring.
Literacy outreach facilitator Elaine Yamamoto explained that the goals of the tutoring sessions are decided by the learner, adding that the adult might want to learn to read better to get a driver's license, to write a qualifying exam for a work promotion, or to get their Grade 12 equivalency - or just to read to their children.
"I think Shannon will be a great tutor. She is compassionate, friendly, understanding, and tolerant. She has all the qualities we are looking for," Yamamoto said.
Alke has also been a dedicated volunteer at the CEED Centre in Port Haney for the past two years working as the volunteer coordinator for GETI Fest and starting up the Gardening for Mental Health program.
She found out about the free tutor training after the community literacy committee opened its doors to the learning room in an office at the centre.
The free volunteer tutor training program was designed by Louise Baumbrough, a B.C.-certified teacher specializing in teaching students with learning challenges who teaches at James Cameron School.
Modelled after the Douglas College ICARE program, volunteers will receive the free training at the Riverside Adult Education Centre and ongoing support as they work with an adult learner over the following year.
The bright yellow walls of the drop-in office provide a welcoming space where anyone can come for help with literacy issues.
The CLC Learning Room offers a small lending library, reading and writing assistance, a women's English group, and access to free learning software on computers provided by the CEED Centre.
The CEED Centre is also host to a federally-funded Computer Access Program (CAP) site where people can come for free use of computers and the Internet.
There are also weekly community discussion meetings and a Saturday evening community dinner run by volunteers of St. George's Anglican Church.
Christian Cowley, the CEED Centre's executive director (and Yamamoto's husband) said he saw the literacy committee office as a perfect fit for the centre which draws a diverse population that can connect to the literacy committee as volunteers or learners.
Anyone wanting more information on the literacy programs can contact Elaine Yamamoto at 604-306-0627 or check out the website www.communityliteracy.ca.