Patti Gloss of Grand Lake takes to heart the inability of others to read.
"The thought that someone can't read makes me want to cry," said Gloss. "I can't imagine not being able to read or feeling inadequate about not being able to read."
Gloss does more, however, than simply express empathy for others. After relocating full-time to Northeast Michigan with her husband about a year and a half ago, she began volunteering as a tutor for READ, the adult literacy program offered by Alpena County Library. Through the program, she helps adults who either want to improve their reading skills or else want to learn English as a second language.
News Photo by Diane Speer
Volunteer READ tutors Patti Gloss and Terry Castro look over some program-related materials. For the past year, both have been helping with the Alpena County Library-sponsored literacy program that serves adults wanting to improve their reading skills.
"It's so satisfying. You're actually helping someone and it's concrete help," Gloss said. "You're not just writing a check to some cause, but you are doing something that will maybe make a person's life better."
Terry Castro, another volunteer READ tutor, has been serving in the program for the same amount of time as Gloss. Both went through the tutor training program offered last year by the library, prior to taking on a READ student.
Like Gloss, Castro is equally committed to the cause.
"It's just such a positive experience," Castro said. "You walk away, and you know you've made a difference. In talking to other tutors, their experiences are virtually the same."
Castro and his wife were looking for a slower-paced lifestyle after his 2001 retirement from Detroit Edison. They initially settled in the Presque Isle Harbor Association, where he started a small graphics computer business. Ultimately, he discovered that he missed the training of college students, Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts that he used to be heavily involved in while working for Detroit Edison.
"It just seemed like there was something missing," Castro said. "When I read an article about tutor training in the newspaper, I thought, that's what it is. I need to be passing along something to someone."
Since taking the training last year, he has worked with several students. Currently, he is helping a 19-year-old Chinese student who is hoping to improve his English.
"When he started working with the READ program, he had a background in the alphabet and numbers, but as far as speaking English, we were starting as ground level," Castro said. "He's such a hard worker. When we started out, he was doing three lessons during a 45-minute session. Now he's up to six lessons in 45 minutes. He is just really applying himself."
Both Castro and Gloss said READ co-coordinators Leslie Kirchoff and Dottie Haase make sure the tutors have all the training and materials needed to become a successful tutor. The two women also make themselves readily available whenever any READ-related questions arise.
"Without Dottie and Leslie, the program wouldn't be so successful," Castro said. "They are so supportive and very accessible. They also provide all of the materials you need."
Gloss and Castro are hoping others in the community will be inspired to get involved in READ. For those who are interested, an informational meeting about tutor training has been set for Sept. 24 from 7-8 p.m. in the library's second floor conference room, where Kirchoff and Haase will explain how the program works and answer any questions from community members wanting to help others learn to read.
A new three-part session of training for would-be tutors will then be presented by Kirchoff and Haase on Oct. 1, 3 and 8 from 5-8:45 p.m. at the library. Those desiring to become a READ tutor must attend all three training sessions.
To register for the training or for more information, call the library at 356-6188, ext. 15.