KINGS BEACH, Calif. - Placer Adult Literacy Service is a county wide program that has been providing reading assistance for adults since 1985. While it is well established in southern Placer County, it is relatively new to the Tahoe region.
Paula Westeren, the coordinator of the PALS program based in Auburn, is working closely with Anne Greenwood of Kings Beach Public Library to provide the same level of service in the North Tahoe area. This outreach to Tahoe is the based on the fundamental belief that the ability to read and write empowers adults to make a better life for themselves and their families.
The statistics for adults without the ability to read and write are higher than most realize. Shockingly, one in five Americans whose first language is English cannot read. In California the problem is even more pronounced: 23 percent of California adults whose first language is English do not have the skills needed to complete a simple one-page job application.
Non-readers come from every age group and socioeconomic background. They might be someone you know well, or an individual you are meeting for the first time. The inability to read is a hidden problem. It is often unnoticed (even by family, friends or employers). We all benefit from a literate community. Unemployment and crime decrease with an increase in literacy, discrimination lessens and class lines begin to blur.
PALS provides people with the tools to change their lives by giving them the reading, writing and basic math skills needed to earn a living and improve our community.
On Saturday Jan. 5, 15 big-hearted individuals donated a full day to be trained as "Reading Coaches." The philosophy of the program is "Each one Teach One," which translates to "If you know how to read, share that gift and privilege by teaching someone else."
The training consisted of methods for teaching adult learners, how to access the vast resources provided by Placer County Libraries such as workbooks and other developmental materials, tricks and tips for engaging learners and much more. The volunteer reading coaches are matched with a learner and work one-on-one with them at a time and place convenient to both.
To qualify as a "learner" in the program, one should be over 16 years of age, out of school, and able to speak English well enough to request services. Upon acceptance, the learner will first perform an assessment, then be placed with a reading coach that best matches their needs. The learner must be able to commit to meetings with their coach on a regular basis.
The service is free, confidential, one-on-one, learner-centered and goal-oriented.
If you or anyone you know can benefit from this program, please contact Greenwood at 530-546-2021 or Westeren at 530-886-4530. You can also stop by the Kings Beach Library located at 301 Secline St. in Kings Beach for more information.
If you have an interest in promoting adult literacy in our community but are unable to commit to being a coach, we invite you to become a member of the Literacy Support Council of Placer County. It is a nonprofit organization formed in 1991 whose sole purpose is to provide vital assistance to the PALS program. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.