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Three VISTAs On Mission To Help Others Help Themselves
BY SUSAN USHER
Volunteers In Service To America (VISTAs) Aaron
Tate. Amy Ta?? and Disns Downer have a decep^veSy
simple challenge in the coming year: To get others excit
od about and involved in Brunswick County Literacy
Council efforts to help adults change their lives for the
better through literacy.
"Our whole role is to try to develop the personnel to
handle work of the council because VISTAs won't al
ways be here," said Diane in a recent interview with the
trio. "Our role here is really to work ourselves out of a
VISTA is part of the Corporation for National Ser
vice's AmeriCorps. The council's volunteers are among
more than 3,500 VISTAs who have committed to spend
ing a year working with public agencies or not-for-profit
grassroots projects which, like the literacy council, help
people change their lives.
While continuing to work with local schools, cham
bers of commerce and civic organizations, during the
coming year one goal of the threesome is to bring more
Brunswick County churches into the adult literacy
A handful of county churches are already involved
in literacy. They host tutor training sessions, provide a
convenient place for tutor and student to meet or pur
chase literacy materials.
The three hope congregations will be receptive to
helping the council reach even deeper into their commu
nities with its program of free reading assistance for old
er youths and adults.
"Being Christians, we'll be able to go into churches
to talk about how Christian churches should have an in
terest in their people learning to read," said Aaron.
Diane, a candidate for the ministry, continued the
thought: "Reading the Bible is the number one reason
given for wanting to learn to read. It just seems natural
that churches would want people to read."
The best statistics available indicate that less than 5
percent of those who need to improve their basic skills
are involved in formal training of any kind, including
volunteer literacy program and community college
based literacy programs, according to BCLC Coor
dinator Gladys Wagenseil.
Based on U S. Census data and other statistics, it is
estimated that nearly one in every five Brunswick
County adults has a need for improved basic communi
cations skills ? to better cope with daily responsibilities,
to keep pace with or grow with changing responsibilities
on the job. to get a job, or to improve their family's
quality of life with such basic abilities as helping their
children with homework or reading a prescription label.
Having such a large number of people who need ba
sic literacy skills "affects the entire community." Diane
said. "For businesses to be attracted to this area and tor
i< to grow there has to be a trained workforce. That is
becoming more and more vital."
Often those who need stronger skills don't seek help
until they must, after the death of a spouse who helped
them manage, or when a job or relationship in jeopardy.
When they do ask for help, they often expect instant re
sults. and can become readily discouraged.
^sISraiSHmk* ? J0R& .
STAFF PHOTO *Y SUSAN USHER
NEW BRUNSWICK COUNTY LITERACY COUNCIL VISTAs Amy Tate , Aaron Tale and Diane
Downer pause in preparing for a canister drive to talk about literacy.
With the help of caring local residents, the VISTAs
aim to change that picture, by creating more awareness
of how literacy changes lives and communities for the
Aaron is working the North Brunswick area. Amy
the Southport-Oak Island- Boiling Spring Lakes and
Diane, the South Brunswick area. They recruit and place
learners and volunteer tutors, fundraisers and program
assistants. Other duties include organizing fund-raising
and community awareness events that help expand the
council's outreach; and organizing activities that support
tutors and students, such as tutor pre-service and in-ser
vicc training, student groups, newsletters and follow-up
on volunteer tutors who aren't immediately matched.
Most recently the VISTAs were busy recruiting par
ticipants for the council's annual canister drive and tu
tors for a pre-service training workshop July 22-23.
All three volunteers bring unique experiences that
have helped prepare them for this opportunity to serve.
Aaron and Amy Tate, from the Houston and San
Antonio areas respectively, married May 22 shortly after
their graduation from Texas Christian University. Aaron
has a bachelor of arts in English and Aaron has a bache
lor of arts in history with a minor in English and past ex
perience working with church youth groups.
"We were looking for some kind of work we could
do together in a community, and in a community differ
ent from the urban communities we were from," said
Aaron. "The more we heard about VISTA the more we
thought it would be a good thing."
Eventually they would like to work overseas with
Wyclif Bible Translators, translating the Bible into other
languages and teaching people to read in their native
Amy experienced a taste of what that future life
could be last summer, when she worked as a "go-fer" for
a team of Bible translators in New Guinea, making liter
acy materials and providing clerical support.
Her New Guinea experiences should help her adjust
to the move to Brunswick County as well, since it re
quired becoming part of a "totally different culture" al
Willing to do whatever VISTA needed of them, the
Tates chose to work in the Southeastern United States.
Given a choice of locations in North Carolina, they
chose "Supply" over several larger communities upstate.
They arrived June 10 and after three nights at a motel
near Holden Beach, settled into rented quarters on
Cumbee Road, not tar from the BCLC office on U.S. 17.
While the VISTAs' greatest reward is helping others
For more information on how to
volunteer to kelp, refer a learner
or book a speaker, contact the
Brunswick County Literacy
Council at 754-READ (7323)
within the Atlantic Telephone
Membership Corp. calling area
or 1 -800-694 -READ from other
areas of the county.
help themselves, helping VISTA volunteers grow is also
a part of the program.
In addition to the personal rewards that come in
helping others. VISTAs receive career experience in the
social service sector, a small living stipend, deferment of
federal student loans (if applicable), insurance and vaca
tion benefits, and training.
At the end of service, each VISTA has the option of
reccivmg a lump suni pa jntvn! to hc*p wiui tran
sition. or a $4,725 educational award that can be used to
help pay off a student loan or to continue his or her edu
That education award will allow Diane to continue
her training for a new carcei. A locally-recruited VISTA,
the former Long Beach resident returned to Brunswick
County from Minnesota in August after her marriage
ended. She and son Jason Sofge, 11, and daughter Dora
Sofgc, 8, moved to ihc Seaside community to be closer
to Diane's parents and brother, (in Shallotte and Ocean
Isle) and to enjoy the milder climate.
Before leaving North Carolina she had completed
two years of study at UNC-Grcensboro. In Minnesota
she had returned to college school and was a junior ma
joring in religious studies and a candidate for the min
istry in the United Methodist Church.
"I had wanted to be a VISTA when the program fin*
formed," she said. The opportunity finally came when
she read about the council opening, applied and was ac
cepted. "I'm planning on a career in the ministry and
this seemed to fit ? reaching out to help people help
Like the Tates, Diane expects to draw upon her past
volunteer and professional experiences as a VISTA. In
starting up a nursing home activity program from
scratch, for instance, she gained experience in recruiting
and working wit volunteers and in developing programs.
Later she became involved in outreach groups in her lo
Already living in the county should be a plus too,
she said, since she is familiar with the area and has an
existing network of contacts.
PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Carmen Bozeman Chosen For 'Who's Who'
Carmen Michelle Bozeman has
tion and to have
She is the
daughter of Troy and Nelda Boze
man of Shallotte.
As a Who's Who student,
Bozeman will be eligible to apply
for a $1,000 scholarship from the
$125,000 to be awarded this year.
High School faculty members, youth
directors and national education or
ganizations nominate " students for
the award. Only 5 percent of all high
school students are chosen.
Raspa On Dean's List
Melissa Jenna Raspa was among
students named to the dean's list for
the spring 1994 semester at Franklin
and Marshall College in Lancaster,
The South Brunswick Islands
Chamber of Commerce is seeking
bright, colorful photographs of the
local area for the front cover of its
1995 South Brunswick Islands
Photos of the beaches, golf, retail
shopping and Fishing are needed.
According to a chamber news re
lease. "Photos with scenes of activity
Raspa. a junior psychology major
and philosophy minor, is ihe daugh
ter of Donna and William Raspa of
Sunset Beach. She is a 1991 gradu
ate of Rhinebeck Central School,
such as a family enjoying the beach,
a golfer teeing off or a couple win
dow shopping are all great ideas."
Entries must be submitted by
Aug. 19 at the chamber office on
Main Street in Shallotte.
Entries should include an infor
mation sheet containing the photog
rapher's name, address and phone
number. Photos will be returned.
Chamber Seeking Photographs
For Its Annual Visitors' Guide
OCEAN ISLE BEACH
Back by Popular Demand. .
Friday & Saturday, July 22-23, 9 pm 'til
playing your favorite oldies, beach,
country rock & country
"^ea&uvuutt a*uC |
The very best seafood (broiled or Calabash style), prime rib, ribeye steaks,
salad bar. All ABC permits. Come early for dining and stay for the entertain- f
ment. *3 per person at the door, deposit required for reservations. I
ON THE BEACH AT OCEAN ISLE ? PHONE 579-6474 FOR RESERVATIONS
We Do Printing!
? Statements "Forms
M.nn St.. Shallotte. 754-8300
l ong Kcach Rfl.. (next to
Ad\ancc Auto) ? 457-4565
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Children* s Hour 1 1 am Every Wednesday
At Our New Location
And at the children's hour at 11 am
Wednesday, July 27
L Bookworm is honored to have a
very special guest reader...
the original Crabby Lady herself
author of 15 books about residents of the sea such as:
Crabby Nabbyt Tammy Turtle,
Sammy Shrimp and Stevie B. Sea Horse
Ms. Tate will also take time for a
booksigning after the readings.
This is the literary event of the summer
at Holden Beach compliments of...
3004 Holden Beach Road
A Boofcsiore in the Classic Tradition