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Become A Tutor, Make A Friend

M.A.L.Co. invites you to make new friends, help new neighbors learn

Written by Barbara Hodgson

Mountain Area Literacy Council, aka M.A.L.Co began in October 1987, born and nurtured by two dedicated ladies, Sue Rhu and Virginia Dane, at Oakhurst. Twenty five years later, M.A.L.Co. is alive and well.

The original goal of the group was to assist English speaking persons ages sixteen and over, who had reading difficulties. As the dynamics of the area changed to accommodate the increasing tourist trade, our focus has shifted primarily to adults with other native languages, tutoring them to improve their abilities to read, write and speak English.Fund-raising in the beginning consisted of such things as donation jars set out in local businesses, and benefit movie showings at the cinema. Today the group is funded completely through donations by civic minded organizations and individuals. There is no paid staff, all tutors and officers are volunteers. M.A.L.Co. students have benefited in many ways from literacy training.

For example, a kitchen worker has advanced to a management position. Another moved from kitchen worker to being the kitchen staff and shift supervisor. A current student who started as a dishwasher now works with customers and enjoys conversing with them in English.

Some students study to earn their high school degrees, or to pass the citizenship test. All of these people improve the economic stability of the community. Most immigrants are hard-working people, many with more than one job, who are seeking improvement in the lives of their family members.

Not only are the students’ lives enhanced by the learning, the tutors gain an immense measure of satisfaction from their efforts. Some are ambitious and enthusiastic enough to help more than one student. Long term friendships often grow from the connection between tutor and student.

The teaching sessions could also be fun; word games can be a useful learning tool. But knowing that they are making an investment in the future is worth more than anything. Literacy is a gift that keeps giving for generations to come. Helping immigrants assimilate into the current culture and economy is true patriotism.

Tutors do not have to be professional teachers; new volunteers are trained locally by current ‘senior’ tutors, usually in two six hour sessions. The most important requirements are a love of reading, a desire to pass along that love and a measure of patience.

Today, M.A.L.Co. has twenty-eight students and twenty-five active tutors using the Laubach course of study, whose motto is “Each One Teach One” – that is, one student at a time per teacher. Most students and tutors meet for two ninety minute sessions a week, but all schedules are flexible and geared to the needs of the participants. Lessons are free of charge to the students, but they may purchase their workbooks if they wish.

We will celebrate our anniversary with an open house on Oct. 12 from 4 to 6 P.M at the Yosemite Gateway Assoc. of Realtors building at 40298 Junction Dr. Oakhurst.

As M.A.L.Co. completes twenty-five years of service to the area, we look forward to the future. In order to keep growing, we need more people to join us. We always welcome new tutors and students, and appreciate those who serve as officers without tutoring. Currently we have need of people who can fill one or more open board positions, willing to dedicate a few hours a month to help us change more lives.

Please visit our open house or contact Mountain Area Literacy Council at 559-683-1456 or

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