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News & Updates for October 2017

newsThis month:


Around the World 2017

9th annual student & volunteer celebration

around the worldPlease join us at Around the World!

We want this year's celebration to be the biggest and best ever. Because we love you all, and want to celebrate with you - and because this has been a difficult few months. There's nothing like being with our community to help us all feel good!

Put the date in your calendar:

Friday, November 10, 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Students will bring a dish from their home country; volunteers will come as their guests. Enjoy a now-legendary evening of fun, food, laughter, and community with the Literacy Advance family!

Volunteers - please sign up on the Resource Room door at Wilcrest, or RSVP to Maxine.

Students - please sign up on the Programs Office door at Wilcrest, or RSVP to Literacy Advance staff.

Got questions? Please call 713.266.8777 and ask to speak to Maxine.

around the world welcome


Update: After the Floods

What's happening for students and volunteers?

houston strong

We've made 600 calls and counting since we got back to the office after Harvey. We've been checking in on students, volunteers, and other friends and supporters. We've heard from the majority of people, but there are still some we haven't been able to contact. We're continuing to check in on people and to offer help to our students.

Classes started back on September 11, and things were quiet for the first few weeks. It's really just been recently that we're getting closer to normal - our new normal. Some students and volunteers have been displaced, maybe permanently - certainly for the foreseeable future. Many are still working on damaged houses, trying to get help replacing lost cars, and more. And of course many folks are stressed and tired.

So, it's been heartening to see so many students and tutors back in class. We know that being together is a stress relief, and that continuing to learn is crucial as students work on replacing lost jobs, helping kids catch up after a late school start, completing stacks of paperwork and online forms, and myriad other demands.

And we continue to need your support more than ever.

It's critical that students can access transition help, get referrals to vital services, and rely on friendly volunteers to help them navigate websites, paperwork, and other processes so necessary to get them back on their feet after Harvey’s devastation.

Please consider making a gift - and thank you for being a friend to our students when they need you most.

Please reach out with questions, or if you need further information: Call 713.266.8777 and ask for Irene.


Resources for recovery

Connecting students to assistance

There's an overwhelming amount of information available to help with hurricane recovery. These two resources are comprehensive, well organized, and easy to understand:

1. After the Storm - United Way of Greater Houston
This highly recommended resource is available in English and Spanish, and provides detailed information for every part of recovery.

2. Harvey Crisis Response Guide - Baker Botts
This guide contains FEMA information, renters’ rights and immigrant qualifications.

And we have a special volunteer opportunity - see below.

transition coachAs you hear of issues, needs, and ongoing recovery among our students and their families, please continue to connect students with Diana, the Literacy Advance Transition Coach. As you know, Diana’s primary focus is helping our students with jobs, and she continues to do that. But her secondary focus is referrals, and that’s particularly important right now.

Diana is the Literacy Advance contact with MANY other agencies and has been working to make sure she has as much current information as possible. 

Let us know how we can help you help our students, and thank you!


Storm Recovery Mentor & Guide

Special volunteer opportunity

thanksAdults with limited literacy or English skills struggle with documents and online forms at the best of times – and after Harvey, many of them don’t know where to start. Documents and forms, whether online or in paper format, can be really baffling to someone struggling to understand written English. Our students don’t always know where to go for help and are in danger of missing deadlines, not being awarded crucial funds, and more. 

As we become aware of students struggling to deal with FEMA forms, or regain employment after losing a job due to the storm, or work with their child’s school, or countless other storm-related difficulties, we want to match them with friendly helpers who can be cheerleaders and mentors. We need volunteers willing to meet with a student at Literacy Advance, or be available by phone or email, to assist students as they recover from storm-related damages. We anticipate these relationships to last for at least a month or two, and very likely longer. We’re not looking for case-workers, just someone to help explain processes and sift through daunting mountains of information alongside an adult student.

Want to know more? Here's a complete role description, including how to get started.


welcome cristo rey Jesuit students

So happy to be part of this program for another year!

We're very pleased to be welcoming new team members, as part of the Cristo Rey Jesuit Workstudy Program. Alex is returning for a second year, and Reggie is new to us this year. We hope you'll introduce yourselves when you meet them and help us make them feel welcome:

The Cristo Rey Jesuit program helps high school students prepare for college in a variety of ways. One of those is their acclaimed workstudy program, where students are placed for one day a week in local businesses and nonprofits. The students get experience working in an office, and the businesses get some valuable extra help throughout the year!

Thank you for joining the team, Alex and Reggie!


Theme of the Month: Health

Waiting Class lesson plans, and more

Based on direct and consistent student feedback, we've created a Theme of the Month calendar, tied to the life skills students say they want to learn. There's a different theme each month, complete with a list of materials and activities that tutors can use to help get students talking and interacting more.

October = Health

Health Stories is a 3-set series of books, workbooks, CDs and free downloads of stories, dialogues, and listening exercises.

Health Stories can help ESL and ABE learners acquire the language and knowledge they need to make healthy choices. Reading, speaking, listening, and vocabulary activities focus on relevant health topics, such as nutrition, allergies, injuries, medication, first aid, and food safety.

Use it in classes where students want to increase their understanding of common health issues, strengthen their knowledge of the U.S. health care system, and give them the language they need to handle health issues for themselves and their families.

It’s also easy to use with multi-level classes, because it covers the same general topics, in the same order.

Health Stories is available in the Bay Area, Waller, and Wilcrest resource rooms.

Visit the Resource Room at your closest site (Wilcrest, Bay Area, or Waller), sign up for an Enrichment workshop, or make an appointment with Maxine (713.266.8777 or to learn more, or to get help with resources on this topic.

Looking ahead... November's theme is Money.


Gulf Coast Reads

Get on the same page with your neighbors!

gulf coast reads logoGulf Coast Reads is an annual regional reading initiative. Organizers hope for simultaneous reading or listening to a selected title by those living along the upper Texas Gulf Coast. That's (probably) you!

Each year, librarians select a title that has a broad appeal to adults in our communities, is recognized in authoritative and professional journals, is available in multiple formats from print to downloadable content, and preferably, is available in multiple languages. This year's book is News of the World by Paulette Jiles, set in north Texas in 1870.

By encouraging our communities to read the same title during the month of October, the hope is that readers will come together in discussions about it with neighbors, co-workers, friends and their families, as well as in classrooms and in libraries throughout the region. There will be many related activities at libraries and community centers throughout October; find out more by visiting the Gulf Coast Reads website.


Calendar Highlights

Special days through the end of the year...

calendarAfter the disruption of September, October has taken a lot of us by surprise. There are just a few weeks of classes left, and some big events coming up (please come to Around the World!).

Here are some noteworthy dates and activities through the end of the year and into the next:

Gulf Coast Reads: This year's book is News of the World
October is Health Literacy Month

Friday, November 10
Around the World: 9th annual student and tutor celebration

Wednesday, November 22 - Saturday, November 25
Literacy Advance CLOSED for Thanksgiving

Saturday, December 16
Last day of classes for 2017

Monday, January 15
First day of classes for 2018

Remember to check the calendar or our Facebook events tab for ongoing information about Literacy Advance events.


Current Volunteer Needs


There's more to do than tutoring! We have ongoing needs for front desk helpers, and other assistance...

Current volunteer needs are here.


Volunteer Events

Tutor Enrichment, Volunteer Socials, and more!

Find out all information on our Volunteer Events page! For changes and updates throughout the month, remember to check our Calendar, or our Facebook Events tab.

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