Our Legacy of Literacy

Literacy Volunteers of Greater AugustaIn 1969 Literacy Volunteers was introduced to the State of Maine by Sister Benigna and Agnes Beckwith. Two years later, 1971, a Basic Reading Workshop was held at Bath and Peg Morrill was the first person in the Augusta area to attend. In November of 1972, she held the first Basic Reading Workshop in our area. About twelve people attended the workshop and in 1973 the Augusta Affiliate of Literacy Volunteers was formed.

In those early years, there was no office so members usually met at the home of whoever was chairman at the time. Occasionally, the members were able to acquire a room at the old CMP building on Green Street for their meetings.

Bake sales were often held to raise enough money to buy supplies. There was no monthly newsletter. In fact, there was no newsletter at all. The only way for members to know was happening in the affiliate was to go to the monthly meetings, which most members did all of the time.

Advertising for students involved placing posters around the area, passing out fliers, a few (very few, I’m told) paid ads through adult education, and by putting the tutors pictures in the local newspaper. There was no money for books so all workshops were taught using slides and mimeographed sheets. The average workshop consisted of five to fifteen tutor trainee’s. When tutoring started at the jail, there was a write up in the newspaper and also announced on the radio. However, I have been unable to get a date just when the jail tutoring started and how many inmates were serviced at that time.

Peg Morrill – ‘Our Founding Mother’ – not only started our affiliate, but has served in every capacity in the organization, many more than once. She left our area 14 years ago to live in Farmington and is still tutoring. At present she is working with an ESL student. It is with great pleasure to have you with us tonight Peg and to have you speak to us on those ‘early days’. Also, may I present you with this corsage in our appreciation for all that you have done.

The year 1978 had a somewhat unique problem as the affiliate had “many more tutors than students”. Eleanor Travis was the matcher at that time and was scurrying to find students to keep the many tutors active. The role of secretary was rotated every month. Each board member was required to take his or her turn.

At the October annual meeting in 1982, “Our Founding Mother” Peg Morrill was presented with a ten year pin and a Quality of Life Certificate. Also at that annual meeting our affiliate was distinguished by being named ‘Affiliate of the Year in Maine’! Our affiliate had the greatest increase of students for the year. We were only one in five affiliates in the country to be nominated for the Connie Haendel Award.

The monthly newsletter presented a series of ‘Meet Your Tutors’ featuring one tutor a month to acquaint the volunteers in the organization with each other.

In March of 1983 the first BSL workshop was held. Although I could find no record of how many took the workshop, it was reported as a huge success and another was planned for May the same year. The purchase of a slide peojector was approved and put into immediate use. Kay Patton was honored in December for the many students she had tutored plus twenty-two at the jail alone.

Eleanor Travis was presented with a ten year pin in October of that same year. In looking over our affiliates records, Eleanor has apparently served on every committee and in every office in the organization. As soon as her husband, Herb retired he joined her in tutoring and in filling the many positions in the affiliate. Herb and Eleanor will speak on some of the joys and trials of those early years.

On June 21, 1984 the word ‘affiliate’ was dropped from the organization nation wide and we became known as Literacy Volunteers of America-Augusta. In that year alone our tutors tutored 1000 plus hours. There were 41 tutor and student matches.

Herb Travis was fund raising for the United Way in 1985 and his wife Eleanor got the job of setting up an LVA display table and working at it.

The following year, 1986, the affiliate received a gift of a computer. Mr. Lowe, a teacher at Regional Vocational School in Augusta, graciously offered to hold a workshop to train tutors to operate it.

Also, that same year the South Parish Congregational Church provided a downstairs room for meetings, storage of materials, and equipment. The executive board approved a donation of $100.00 to the church “in appreciation of their services….for our many needs”.

One of the concerns of the February 1990 board meeting was that was too much money in the treasury. Expenditures of $1000:00 for computer software and $500.00 for library supplies was approved. What a wonderful problem to have!! However, on the down side, there was no tutoring done at the jail that year.

In a rather odd twist of fate, in 1991 the organization had too many students. There were twenty-five students waiting for a tutor and only nine tutor trainees were enrolled in the workshop. I could find no record when this situation was rectified and a balance of tutors and students attained, but being the resourceful affiliate that we are, I am sure the balance was attained in a seemly manner without losing any of the students.

Well, it has been some time since this page has been updated as it is now 2016.

Recent History

  • In 2003, our organization combined with the ProLiteracy organization.
  • In 2003, we were recognized by the Maine State Legislature House and Senate on the occasion of our 30th Anniversary.
  • In 2004, we became an incorporated entity (Literacy Volunteers of Greater Augusta, Inc.) with the State of Maine.
  • In 2004, we became a tax-exempt, 501(c)3 organization with the Federal Government.
  • In 2006, we achieved national accreditation from ProLiteracy America.
  • In January, 2011, our national accreditation from ProLiteracy America was renewed.