Parkland College's Project READ Receives 2022 Spotlight Awards
Project READ Learners, Tutor Recognized with State Awards
Project READ at Parkland College has won three Spotlight Awards from the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State.
The Spotlight on Achievement and Service Awards recognize the achievements of individuals who support the adult literacy effort in Illinois, from adult learners improving their skills to the volunteer tutors who assist and guide them.
All three of Parkland’s nominated individuals received awards at a reception ceremony in Springfield on May 11. Longtime tutor Bob Kirby won the Spotlight on Service Award, and learners Doug Webb and Efrain Gaspar both won Spotlight on Achievement Awards.
Since retiring from his physician practice ten years ago, Kirby has never stopped caring for and wanting to help others, especially immigrants in the Champaign-Urbana community through English language classes. He has shown his dedication by founding the English Second Language program at the local First Presbyterian Church, tutoring with Project READ, and hosting an “Easy English Fellowship” group every Sunday and Monday.
After seeing the limitations that a family member faced due to illiteracy, Kirby was inspired to begin teaching English. "With training and encouragement from Project READ at Parkland College, tutoring adults in English is something I can do," he said. "Meeting learners from diverse cultures has enriched my life, as has my relationship with the Project READ staff."
Learner Efrain Gaspar’s goal is to become an apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) in Champaign, which requires a math examination, among others. Originally from Guatemala, he and his tutor Cathy Salika would focus on word problems to practice his math and English skills.
Gaspar has since passed the IBEW math examination. "We are all so happy to see him advance his skills and achieve the goal he has been so focused on," the Project READ staff said. "Efrain has been a tremendously dedicated learner—the model of politeness and studiousness."
"I have been able to achieve these goals because of Project READ’s ability to find excellent resources and volunteers," Gaspar said. "My family and I are so thankful for the help from Project READ."
Learner Doug Webb credits Project READ and his tutor Diane Terando for helping him change his life. From a self-described "non-reader" to passing GED exam portions and taking computer classes at Parkland, he and the Project READ staff are very proud of his achievements and steps forward.
"I used to be shy and afraid because I couldn’t talk well, and my words didn’t sound right," Webb shared in his nomination essay. "I am more comfortable meeting people now than ever before in my life. I have more confidence. The word ‘quit’ is not in my vocabulary any longer."
Project READ is made possible by
the Illinois State Library, a division of the Office of the Illinois
Secretary of State, Jesse White, using funds designated for literacy.
For more information about Project READ, please visit parkland.edu/projectread, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 217/351-2580.
[from top: Bob Kirby, Efrain Gaspar, Doug Webb, with state officials in Springfield.]