Literacy Volunteers looks to expand

3 mins read
Barbara Averill of Literacy Volunteers speaks at the recent Franklin County Adult Education graduation. (Photo by Mike Burd)

FARMINGTON – A small non-profit is looking toward big changes ahead thanks to a recently awarded grant that is addressing the grand scheme of things, according to Literacy Volunteers of Franklin and Somerset County Executive Director Barbara Averill.

“We’ve come such a long way in the last year. It’s gratifying to receive such a vote of confidence,” Averill said.

The $36,000 Betterment Fund grant will be spread out over a three-year period- a characteristic that Averill said they were specifically looking for. The two-person staff at LV has secured $50,000 worth of grants in the last year alone, but only the Betterment Fund will be in place for an extended amount of time.

In addition to having a longer life, which offers a sense of security Averill said, the grant is also not program specific. Averill and her assistant, Sara Beech, can use the funds wherever they are needed. In Averill’s opinion, that was a no-brainer.

“We want to look at opportunities in the northern region [of the county] that build collaboration. We know the need is there, but we also know that you can’t just go lolling into a community and say ‘here we are, come on in,'” she said.

Thanks to the grant, Averill, Beech and the 72 volunteers that make up LV have begun the process of searching for two new anchor sites for programming. The sites would serve as hubs “to spoke from,” according to Averill, allowing the small team to double the geographic area they currently serve. Right now, Literacy Volunteers impacts 460 people through tutoring, traveling libraries and family literacy activities. In 2018 they gave away nearly 1,500 free books.

“What we’ve learned is that when we collaborate and when we pool together what we have to offer, we can do so much more,” Averill said.

Specifically, the grant money will help to outfit the new hubs with teaching material for the tutors, as well as hire a tutor coordinator, a grant writer and support improvements for the organization’s website. It will cover roughly 10 percent of the total operating budget for the next three years, Averill said.

“We’ve been bootstraps for the last four years, and I mean bootstraps. We use every strap of what we have to work with. And yeah, we can do it, because it’s the power of the people not the money; however, it’s really hard to build the people infrastructure without the people. You have to have the leadership and organization and volunteer management- the infrastructure which provides the scaffolding foundation in order to sustain,” Averill said. “It’s grassroots, people-driven action. Everything I do now, I see a direct result. That’s why I love my work.”

For more about Literacy Volunteers click here.

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  1. Averill has worked very hard to expand Literacy Volunteers. Very glad to see this. She is a powerhouse.

  2. Barb is fantastic! She gets people together in a way that serves the best interests of all involved communities.
    Congratulations on moving forward!

  3. Congratulations! It’s wonderful to see Literacy Volunteers not only back on track but going full force! You’re doing a good job.

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