NEW ALBANY, Ind. – Trinity United Methodist Church’s Adult Literacy Program in New Albany, is preparing to celebrate one year of God’s work, bringing church and community members together to meet individuals’ desire for help in reading, writing, and math skills. While literacy is the stated ministry goal, when tutors and clients meet, academics are not the only needs addressed.
The Trinity Adult Literacy Program grew out of congregational discussions about outreach during winter 2010. In August, the church’s administrative council approved the program and within three days, curriculum was received as a gift from two local adult education programs that were transitioning services.
In September and October, 34 church- and community- individuals trained as tutors; volunteers offered to handle marketing with announcements to churches, the library, newspapers and television. Client registrations also began. Since then, more than 28 residents have participated in one-on-one weekly sessions with volunteer tutors.
Program year round
The program runs year round. The initial plan was to serve adults needing basic education skills (up to about sixth grade level) in reading and math. However, not knowing exactly what each client might be like, or what learning needs he or she would have, the goal was all who came for tutoring would be welcomed and provided help toward meeting their literacy goals. That decision has resulted in all literacy levels, beginning phonics to General Educational Development (GED) studies, being taught. That decision also has stretched the program in ways that clearly show God’s hand at work each week.
The clients are different from the hypothetical ones envisioned during training. They are individuals with joys and sorrows, troubles and fears, pain and hope just like the tutors, directors, and other volunteers. Some clients are learning phonics, some study to read and pass the driving test, one man studies so he can get a GED diploma to encourage his son in school.
There are many reasons why clients can’t read. One client has worked for 20 years in manual labor. He didn’t finish his senior year of high school, because he stayed home to care for a parent with cancer. Now, his family is cheering him on as he studies Mondays at Trinity and completes daily work at home, working towards a GED diploma.
The tutors have found that accepting the client means working with him or her on whatever challenges he or she faces; offering instruction, encouragement and hope are needed because studying reading, writing and math is hard work and finding time as an adult to study can be very difficult.
The Trinity Adult Literacy Program is celebrating and praising God as materials arrive when needed, new people volunteer to tutor, and one or two new clients request assistance each week. Beyond academic skills, the caring attitude of the tutors touches clients in amazing ways.
The tutors’ genuine interest in the whole person and desire to serve Christ changes lives – the clients’ and the tutors’.
One client said, “This is my church.” She doesn’t have a church home, or attend Sunday worship at Trinity, but the Adult Literacy Program is where she feels cared for and a part of the church. Yes, Trinity UMC is celebrating and is excited to see what God is going to do each week through the Adult Literacy Program.
For more information, visit www.trinitynewalbany.org or call 812-944-2229.