Letter: Help your community communicate

Last month, English in Action held our annual tutor celebration dinner. I’d like to take a moment to offer my deepest gratitude to the 160 individuals who volunteered for English in Action last year. Our volunteer tutors meet for approximately an hour a week one on one or in small groups with adult community members who want to improve their English skills. Although the time commitment is minimal, we see measurable improvement in the language skills of 95 percent of our participants. Our students also tell us that as a result of their improved English, they are able to get better jobs, become more involved in their children’s education, earn GED certificates or citizenship, and much, much more.

While our valley has significant cultural divides, our volunteers break down those barriers each day by making a connection with a person of a different background. I am reminded of a quote I recently found on volunteering by an unknown author:

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

English in Action’s volunteers are truly helping to make our community a better place for all of us. Last year, our volunteers worked with more than 260 students, but they had a positive ripple effect on thousands of family members and community members who come into contact with our students each day.

That said, with no advertising on our part, English in Action currently has a waiting list of more than 130 people who would like a volunteer tutor. We have launched a campaign to train as many as 70 new tutors in 2016 in order to reduce the time that people spend on our waiting list. If you are interested in learning more, we invite you to join us at a gathering today from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Woody Creek Distillers in Basalt. We’d love to treat you to a drink and appetizers and tell you more about how to become a volunteer tutor.

Lara S. Beaulieu

Executive director, English in Action