Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner
OC Community Resources
OC Public Libraries, Read/Orange County
Adult Literacy Service Program
READ/Orange County is the adult literacy service program of the OC Public Libraries. The program matches highly trained volunteer tutors with Orange County residents seeking literacy services in order to improve English reading, writing and speaking skills. Through its cadre of volunteers, READ/OC offers the following programs: Basic Adult Literacy Skills, Families for Literacy, English Language Civics Education and Working for Inmate Literacy Now.
Each READ/OC tutor undergoes 23 hours of training and is asked to dedicate 50 hours to tutoring an adult learner. In addition, volunteers prepare monthly reports, attend regularly scheduled skills enhancement workshops and submit semi-annual goal achievement summaries.
Floy Newman has far surpassed the commitment level of most READ/OC volunteers. She has been actively involved as a literacy tutor for 5 years, dedicating her time and expertise to inmate instruction through the Working for Inmate Literacy Now (WIN) program. The 50 hours that she initially signed up to complete have dramatically increased to more than 500 volunteer hours.
As a young wife and mother, Floy set aside her own education until her youngest child started kindergarten. Eventually, she returned to college to pursue her degree, intending to teach remedial reading to incarcerated adults. Unfortunately, Floyd's academic plans were interrupted, and she returned to work prior to completing her teaching credential. At that point in her life, Floy might not have realized that a second opportunity for her to achieve a personal goal of teaching incarcerated adults to read would someday be available.
In August, 2003, Floy was enjoying a day at the Orange County Fair and she happened to stop by the READ/OC information booth. To her delight, she noticed a flyer inviting community members to volunteer their time to teach inmates basic literacy skills. Without hesitation, Floy signed up for the next training session and was matched with her first learner in November 2003. Since that time, she has tutored more than 15 incarcerated adults, providing them with an opportunity to develop reading skills that were not acquired as a child. Skills that many of us take for granted.
Floy’s dedication to the learners she works with is inspirational. On May 5, 2004 she underwent major surgery. By May 17 she was ready to return to her volunteer duties. Over the years, she has purchased resource materials for her learners to assist them in improving their literacy skills and has never requested a reimbursement. During stressful administrative changes, she remained consistent in providing literacy services for the inmates, encouraging them to achieve their personal goals and helping them acquire reading skills that would eventually strengthen their self-confidence.
When asked about some of her most meaningful experiences as a READ/OC literacy tutor, Floy mentions a developmentally delayed student who she has worked with from time to time for approximately two years. As a result of her intervention, he progressed from struggling through three sentences in a Dr. Seuss book to confidently reading about dolphins at a third-grade reading level.
Tangela Ashe the READ/OC WIN coordinator says, “Floy may not be able to teach the inmates to read fluently in the short time she tutors them in a jail setting, but by the time their sessions end, they are certainly inspired to achieve even higher reading levels.”
Floy exemplifies the spirit and value of volunteerism. She touches many lives through her compassion and patience in working with incarcerated adults. Her commitment to the mission and goals of READ/OC inspires others to get involved. Her volunteer endeavors are making a significant difference in Orange County that positively impacts current and future generations. READ/OC is honored to have this very dedicated and talented individual as part of its volunteer team.
Click Here to access the READ/Orange County website.