Literacy Nassau has expanded its menu of services by leaps and bounds over the past few years. What started as a few hundred volunteers individually tutoring adults in Basic Literacy and ESOL has grown exponentially. Because of the breadth and depth of services we now offer, the inevitable has happened: word has spread, and people outside of Nassau County are actively seeking our assistance.
According to www.suffolkcountyny.gov, Suffolk County is comprised of 1,493,350 people (as of 2009). Of these,192,642 (12.9%) are foreign-born, 266,000 (17.8%) speak a language other than English at home, and 283,000 (18.9%) have developmental or physical disabilities. There are a myriad of wonderful organizations in Suffolk County that offer programs to address literacy and language needs, and there are also programs that assist with naturalization, green cards, and legal consultations for other immigration issues. And of course, there are plenty of programs that address the needs of adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. However, most of the aforementioned agencies do not have the capacity to offer these services at no cost to the client. That is the beauty of being a volunteer-based organization: our administrative costs are very low and are mostly grant-funded, so we can offer all of our services for free.
You may have noticed in our Spring Program Guide that we are offering our very first Tutor Training Workshop (TTW) in Suffolk this month, at the Sachem Library in Holbrook. The TTW is for Next Chapter Book Club facilitators and stemmed from a group of parents out in Wading River who were looking to place their adult children with developmental disabilities into a book club. To create a club for them, we needed to first find volunteer facilitators that far east in Suffolk County, so we set up the TTW in Holbrook and are hopeful that it will attract some great new volunteers. Our goal is to plant several Next Chapter Book Club sites in varying locations throughout Suffolk so that as many people as possible have access to this wonderful, engaging resource.
Another meaningful activity that we’ve been able to bring “over the border” is our work with naturalization. Citizenship Drives give qualifying immigrants the opportunity to have their N-400 Applications for Naturalization completed by either a licensed immigration attorney or a BIA accredited representative. We are also able to complete fee waiver applications, green card renewals, and other immigration forms. We are excited to be able to offer a Citizenship Drive in Huntington Station - a community of great need - on June 27th.
We are also excited to be launching our Small Group Instruction program in two communities in Suffolk County: Deer Park and Bay Shore. In partnership with the Deer Park and Bay Shore libraries (respectively), we look forward to bringing the small group dynamic to the adult ESOL population in these communities in the summer and fall of 2016.
In the months to come, you can expect to see more of our work in Suffolk County. Our Board of Directors is currently working on a strategic plan to help bridge the gap for potential students and/or clients in Suffolk County without duplicating the services of neighboring organizations. To that end, here is a list of resources should you know of anyone who lives in Suffolk and needs help.
Literacy Suffolk: Offers one-to-one,
Volunteer based, adult literacy tutoring.
www.literacysuffolk.org, (631) 286-1649.
Western Suffolk BOCES: Offers ESOL and Adult Basic Education large group classes, high school equivalency test preparation, citizenship test preparation classes, and more at a variety of locations throughout western Suffolk.
www.wsboces.org, (631) 667-6000 x.303
Eastern Suffolk BOCES: Offers high school equivalency test preparation, ESOL and Adult Basic Education large group classes, and computer instruction. www.esboces.org/AE, (631) 419-1609. The Learning Connection: Offers large group ESOL classes in Brentwood.
Suffolk Community College: Offers high school equivalency test preparation large group classes in Brentwood, Riverhead, and Selden.
The Opening Word Program: Offers large group ESOL classes in Amityville,
Wyandanch, and Huntington Station. www.theopeningword.org,
Check your local school district as well for adult education class offerings. Many districts offer services for a nominal fee.