35th Anniversary Year Celebrations

Project Literacy is Celebrating Our 35th Anniversary!


A brief history

Project Literacy was founded in 1986. Back then we had one part-time staff person and three or four volunteers. Small but mighty, we were passionate about literacy then, and we’re even more passionate about literacy now.

Fast forward 35 years and you will see how Project Literacy has expanded our literacy programs and support. Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society now has four full-time staff. Each of us is here because we believe in helping people and we believe in the ability of literacy to change lives in positive ways. Each of us has a unique role and together we keep the wheels and the momentum of Project Literacy going.

Paul Zuurbier is our Executive Director. He has been with Project Literacy for over three years and is responsible for all grant writing, finances, management and operations. Elaine Johnston, is our Education Coordinator. She has been with Project Literacy for over 20 years. Elaine is our anchor and knowledge holder. This amazing woman coordinates our Adult Tutoring Program, which has been our core program since the beginning. Elaine has matched thousands of learners with just the right tutor to support their literacy needs.

Katia Bois, is our other Education Coordinator.  She coordinates our IPALS and One to One Children’s Reading Program, while also supporting our adult Tutoring Program. Katia has been with us for three years. Kate De Kruif, is our Office Administrator. Kate is the first person you see when you arrive at the Learning Centre. She supports our Executive Director, keeps the Learning Centre running smoothly and helps to coordinate our events, fundraisers, and programs. Kate has been with Project Literacy for almost a year.

Over the past 35 years, our number of volunteers has also grown. We now have over 120 dedicated volunteers, many of whom have been with us for over five or ten years. They volunteer several hours each week to tutor their learner or learners. We also have a strong and dedicated Board of Directors, who volunteer their time, energy and knowledge to ensure our ongoing success and resilience.

And we wouldn’t be here without the support of our community funders, many of whom have supported us for numerous years. This includes the Central Okanagan Foundation, the Province of BC, Decoda Literacy Solutions, the United Way,  Colin and Lois Pritchard Foundation, the Belmont Foundation, Harmony Honda, local Rotary Clubs, credit unions, businesses, and many, many individual donors.

Our facility has also grown. Back in 1986 we started in a small two room office. For many years now we have been operating from our Learning Centre at 1635 Bertram Street. This large facility offers six individual lesson rooms, a large resource library and flex space, and individual offices for the staff. The Learning Centre is located at street level in the heart of downtown Kelowna. We are close to major transportation hubs and easily accessible to the many people who need our support.

We are Celebrating!

We have many fun and exciting activities planned for our 35th Anniversary!. Our first event was a Room Dedication to honour our longest serving volunteer Jean Lee. Jean volunteered with Project Literacy for over 27 years. She retired from being a teacher at the age of 65 and was a volunteer tutor with Project Literacy until she was 92. Jean’s room was officially dedicated during a small gathering on Friday, April 23, 2021. You can learn more about Jean’s story here:


And you can read about her story here: https://www.kelownadailycourier.ca/news/article_106335da-a2f1-11eb-938c-4762aaa4c20c.html

Where are they now?

We will be featuring stories about some of our learners and how support from Project Literacy helped them improve their quality of life. Stories will be posted on our Facebook page and under the ‘News’ section of our website. The first few stories are coming soon!

35 Must read books!

Here is the list of 35 must read books for the spring and summer recommended by the Project Literacy staff and board members.

Top 35 Books

Poetry and Writing Contest!

In celebration of our 35th Anniversary, Project Literacy will be holding a special Poetry and Short Story contest in the fall of 2021. More details on the competition will be posted in the fall.

An original Radio Play!

In partnership with the Seniors Learning In Retirement Society, Project Literacy is developing an original radio play! The play will be written and performed by seniors in the community. It will be performed and recorded in front of a live audience in the fall. Stay tuned for more information.

Photo Collage!

We’re dusting off the photographs and searching through our files to find all those great photos of volunteers, learners and staff. We’ll be making a unique photo collage from the pictures. The collage will be displayed at the Learning Centre and we’ll share it with all our volunteers.

A huge thank you to all the many wonderful staff, volunteers, and supporters, both past and present who have contributed to Project Literacy over the years! Because you believed in us, you have have helped us believe in the many people we support.