DWC Hears Remarks from Literacy Services of Indian River County

What would it be like if I couldn’t read? That was the question posed by Jessica Schmitt, executive director of Literacy Services of Indian River County. It would be impossible to read street signs, newspapers or directions, she told members and guests of the Democratic Women’s Club of IRC.

Speaking at the club’s October meeting at the Vero Beach Country Club, Schmitt said that one in five adults in our community struggles with illiteracy. “Our vision is to end generational illiteracy,” she said, referring to the nonprofit organization.

Literacy Services empowers local adults to become successful members of society by improving their reading and comprehension skills.

The agency offers one-on-one or small group tutoring sessions, Schmitt said. “Our target population is adults struggling to read or wanting to learn English.

Seventy percent of the organization’s clients are ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students.

The program is free to all adults in the county who are 16 and older, Schmitt said. In 2017, 334 people were served. Of that number, six started college, 12 started trade school or adult education courses, 17 became U.S. citizens, and 32 read a book for the first time.

All of the tutors for the privately funded organization are volunteers. With a lengthy, ongoing waiting list, volunteers are always needed, she said. All of the tutors are carefully matched with students and typically meet twice a week. Each teacher works to help a learner reach his or her specific goal.

Classes are often held at the public libraries. Schmitt said there are also a few workplace programs as well as a small GED class.

Before joining Literacy Services in December, Schmitt served six years as the Boys and Girls Clubs’ director of resource development and four years with Indian River Habitat for Humanity.

Literacy Services can be reached at 772-778-2223.

The next luncheon meeting of the Democratic Women’s Club is Nov. 10.