Penny Parker (left) has tutored Bryant Moncrief since August at the Victoria Literacy Connection. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Penny Parker (left) has tutored Bryant Moncrief since August at the Victoria Literacy Connection. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Reading between the lines: the many roles of the Victoria Literacy Connection

Saturday fundraiser to help volunteer-run organization teach people to read, write and more

Bryant Moncrief leans over his book, carefully tracing lines of text with his index finger.

His tutor, Penny Parker, looks on and smiles; she’s been tutoring him in reading for nine months, though he’s been coming to the Victoria Literacy Connection (VLC) – formerly Literacy Victoria and the READ society – for two years.

“It’s been a good experience,” Moncrief says. “I’ve been improving my reading and it gets a bit easier to read stuff that I couldn’t before, like menus at restaurants or paperwork from the government.”

When he was young, he didn’t realize the important of reading. “I didn’t really push myself as hard as I should have when I was younger. But I’m trying now.”

Parker, surprised at his comments, says they haven’t even practiced reading menus yet. “Whatever’s going on there with your learning is spilling out, so that’s very cool.”

Moncrief’s experiences are what VLC is aiming to facilitate more of. This Saturday (May 26), they’re hosting the “Fun-raiser retro bash for literacy,” a retro-themed dance party featuring live music from the Palamos Project. It’s happening at the Oaklands Community Centre, 2827 Belmont Ave.

Moncrief is one of over 200 people who regularly attend the VLC or use one of their programs. As an adult using their one-to-one program, he represents a fraction of what the organization does.

They also host tutoring for schoolchildren, for families referred by the Mustard Seed, for inmates at the Vancouver Island Correctional Centre, as well as adult immigrants. It also runs an after-school care program called “Noisy Kids Reading Club.”

VLC executive director Christine Bossi says the inmates program – a partnership with the Cowichan School District – has been beneficial to students at the correctional centre, who are avid learners despite their challenging circumstances.

“Inmates are very focused on getting a high school diploma or an occupational certificate and that helps them when they get out to integrate into society,” she says.

Christine Bossi, executive director of the Victoria Literacy Connection, is excited about an upcoming fundraiser for the organization. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

Other programs, like the one designed for immigrants is a partnership with S.J. Willis school, and has seen a lot of interest, despite being only five months old.

“It started as a conversation group to get enough English comprehension to start reading, but now news has spread and we have four groups,” Bossi says. “It can be young people who are immigrants, but also maybe some who have been here for 20 years and never really learned the language properly.”

VLC also has partnerships with the University of Victoria to find free tutors for other subjects, like math, Bossi says. Because of the large demand for teachers in Victoria, it was hard to find educators who would be able to volunteer their time, she notes, but the partnership has worked perfectly for students studying education who need volunteer hours.

VLC also offers some courses in simple computer literacy, as many people are unfamiliar with how to use computers and find it harder and harder to keep up with the job market.

Most of the programs are free and run by over 100 volunteers, who Bossi says are drawn to the organization because of the amazing moments they experience when students finally understand something.

“We have the English conversation class and there’s so much joy and the laughter coming out of those sessions because they’re having epiphanies and they’re realizing certain things that for 20 years they’ve been wondering [about],” she says. “Now they understand.”

Proceeds from the weekend fundraiser will benefit the many programs VLC hosts; tickets are $20 and can be purchased at victorialiteracyconnection.ca.

nicole.crescenzi

@vicnews.com

fundraiserliteracyVolunteer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A peacock struts by a pair of lamb siblings at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm, which remains closed to the public. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
VIDEO: Victoria petting zoo optimistic about future after 13 months closed

Public helps non-profit Beacon Hill Children’s Farm with nearly $100,000 influx

Island Health declared a COVID-19 outbreak in two houses at the Mount St. Mary long-term care home on Wednesday. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)
Island Health declares outbreak at Victoria long-term care home

Resident, staff member test positive for COVID-19 at Mount St. Mary facility

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus is putting a 41-passenger electric bus through its paces in a three-month trial run between Nanaimo and Victoria. (Photo submitted)
Electric bus on trial run serving Victoria-to-Nanaimo route

Vancouver Island Connector and Tofino Bus trying out 41-seat electric coach for three months

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is helping Saanich police locate a suspect who allegedly stole an iPhone from a building in the 3100-block of Foul Bay Road on April 7. (Image via the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police seek suspect in cell phone theft

White iPhone XR reported stolen from building on Foul Bay Road April 7

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A teacher-librarian in Nanaimo was fired in 2019 for checking out an age-inappropriate graphic novel to a student. The discipline agreement was published Wednesday, April 21. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo teacher-librarian fired for checking out too-graphic graphic novel to student

Teacher had been previously disciplined and suspended on two occasions

Aria Pendak Jefferson cuddles ChiChi, the family cat that ran away two years ago in Ucluelet. The feline was missing until Courtney Johnson and Barry Edge discovered her in the parking lot of the Canadian Princess earlier this month. Aria and her parents were reunited with ChiChi in a parking lot in Port Alberni. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
An Island girl’s wish is answered as her cat came back

Courtenay family reunited with cat that went missing in Ucluelet in 2019

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

Most Read