Celebrating National Volunteer Month

April is National Volunteer Month and LCNV would like everyone to know that without our volunteers, LCNV would not exist. LCNV was established in 1962 by a grassroots group of local volunteers alarmed at the number of adults who were functionally illiterate. LCNV grew from a corps of trained volunteers who provided one-to-one tutoring for predominantly native-born residents to creating larger-scale classroom programs as the number of foreign-born residents rose dramatically. Today LCNV serves those at the lowest skill levels providing the crucial first steps of language and literacy learning. Celebrating its 60th anniversary, LCNV is proud to have served nearly 60,000 students in its tenure. Just this past year, LCNV’s small staff of 15 worked with more than 400 trained volunteers who gave over 16,000 hours of service to over 1,000 students.

For 60 years, volunteers have played an instrumental role in LCNV’s ability to best serve our learners, even during the most tumultuous times, choosing to serve others even when facing their own challenges. They have shared their time, energy, and resources with members of the community who were struggling to get by with minimal English skills. With the support of many dedicated volunteers over the years, English learners have been able to achieve their personal and professional goals – including becoming US citizens, being more involved in their children’s education, and gaining a foothold in the economy. As one learner stated, “You light our path of darkness.”

Volunteers play a central role in LCNV’s service delivery. LCNV has a range of volunteer roles for people to consider, providing opportunities for people of all ages and walks of life to engage in community service. Primarily, our volunteers serve as our students’ instructors as volunteer teachers, class aides, and supplemental tutors. Volunteers also serve LCNV behind the scenes, providing support in our office, at LCNV events, and outreach activities. LCNV’s volunteer program provides a way for adults who have had access to greater opportunities to share their skills and engage in improving the lives of those in their community.

We would like to give a shout out to Loren Zander who just last week was awarded the Fairfax County Volunteer Service Award in the category of Education and Literacy. Since 2015, Loren has been an integral part of LCNV’s ability to positively impact the lives of English learners. She is committed to equipping her students with the language and skills needed to access employment and educational opportunities and become active participants in their community. With learners from many different nationalities, cultures, and backgrounds, Loren fosters a sense of community and connectedness in her classrooms. She creates a supportive community that strengthens learners’ sense of belonging and confidence in engaging with wider society. One student wrote, "Teacher Loren is very passionate and very interested in students. [She] explained English easily and above all, [her] voice was good to hear." Another student wrote, "Teacher Loren is friendly and very patient. She gives a chance to all students to participate. Also, if the lesson has not been understood by the students, even just one student, she insists on explaining the course until everyone understands." Thank you, Loren, for your extraordinary service. You represent so many LCNV volunteers who over the years have gone above and beyond to meet the needs of English language learners. We cannot thank you enough!

If you are not already volunteering with LCNV, here is a listing of opportunities that support LCNV efforts: 1) Teachers instruct 2-3 times a week for 12-week semesters; 2) Class Aides help 1-2 days a week assisting students and teachers; 3) Assessment Specialists assess students for placement in our classes and measure progress 2 times per semester; 4) Tutors support students before or after class. Other opportunities include: 5) Substitutes, 6) Outreach, 7) Registration help, 8) Librarians, 9) Admin/office, 10) Skilled projects, 11) Special Events and 12) Tech support.

We are already looking for additional teachers for this fall semester!

Please contact Amy Tristan, LCNV’s Volunteer & Outreach Coordinator, at atristan@englishempowermentcenter.org to join the team!