March 2023 Newsletter

Helping Ukraine, One Learner at a Time!

Serhiy Pomazan, Project Literacy Learner

Serhiy and his family are from Ukraine. He is a husband, a father of three amazing children, and a proud grandfather of two beautiful granddaughters. He also has a lovely German Shepherd named Troy, which had to stay behind in Ukraine.

Before joining Project Literacy, Serhiy had very little confidence in his English speaking abilities. He wasn’t eager to chat with a cashier at a grocery store and even more less open to a discussion with a bank teller. His main goal was to improve his English so that he could communicate socially, improve his listening skills and gain confidence.

Serhiy has found that consistent learning each week with his tutor, Tom, and the homework material provided by Project Literacy helped him with his progress. The readings helped him to improve his vocabulary greatly.

The welcoming environment at Project Literacy has encouraged Serhiy to practice his English and not fear making a mistake. He knows that he is here to learn, and mistakes are part of the learning process. Since his time at Project Literacy, he’s been working a lot, however, he also prioritizes helping his son with making deliveries for Alchemy Bread.

In his spare time, Serhiy enjoys outdoor activities. Nordic walking is one of his favourite exercises. He also looks forward to skiing with his family each winter. It brings him the most pleasure. Serhiy is a bright ray of sunshine within the learning centre. He is extremely helpful when we need a translator for his fellow Ukrainian Learners.


Become a Friend of Literacy!

The Friends of Literacy Membership invites individuals and businesses to become an active funder of needed literacy programs and initiatives in the Central Okanagan. The Friends of Literacy Membership has been gaining momentum since September and now has over 50 Founding Members! These are businesses and individuals who are dedicated to annually funding literacy in the Central Okanagan. 

Mosaic Books is a Founding Partner of the Friend of Literacy Program. As a partner, they are providing a 10% discount on all in-store purchases by Friends of Literacy Members.

As a literacy charity, Project Literacy has been providing free literacy support to low-income Canadians, refugees, and new immigrants for 37 years. Project Literacy continues to be the only literacy focused charity in the Central Okanagan.

The Friends of Literacy Membership is an ongoing opportunity for businesses and members of the community to help grow and support literacy. Funds raised this year are being used to increase our resources for low-literacy learners, which include refugees from Ukraine and Syria. For more information about the Friends of Literacy Program, please visit our website here.

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a list of our Founding 50 Members!

Project Literacy is entirely funded by community grants, sponsorships and donations.

Learner Success Story

Jiyoun “Ruth” Kim, Project Literacy Learner

Jiyoun Kim was named by her grandfather. Most people call her Ruth because it is difficult to pronounce her Korean name.There are five members of her family: her husband, eldest daughter, son, youngest daughter and herself. The Kim family loves to stay at home and talk to each other, watch movies and play games. One day, they hope to add a dog to the mix.Prior to learning with Project Literacy, Jiyoun’s life was very busy but she wanted to learn a new language and culture. She also wanted to talk to her fellow Canadians but there were very few opportunities.

Jiyoun’s learning goals included bettering her English skills through the level test so that she could fully understand the words, idioms, etc. that she required for reading and writing. She also needed to prepare for the IELTS test, so her tutor provided a lot of help with practicing and learning information needed to take it.With the tutoring relationship provided by Project Literacy, Jiyoun was able to learn a lot of pronunciation and idioms and words that she normally didn’t use very often when she spoke English. Her tutor also helped her navigate the “awkward or incorrect parts of sentences correctly.

When not learning English, Jiyoun loves to watch movies (in particular Marvel films), enjoy the comforts of her home and knit in her rocking chair. She also loves drinking coffee whilst listening to the sound of rain. Professionally, she runs a PHO restaurant in Lake Country called Bun Ta Pho Grill which specializes in Vietnamese cuisine. Bun Ta Pho Grill is well known for its great service, fair prices and friendly staff, that is always ready to help you. Jiyoun loves cooking at her restaurant and creating new recipes for more delicious sauces and broths. Click here for more information and to order your next meal of their flavorsome dishes!

Jiyoun is a wonderful example of success through incredibly hard work.

Pizza and Pointers!

Rick Maddison

We are pleased to announce the return of our Speaker Series “Pizza & Pointers!

“Rick Maddison, Entrepreneur, ‘Rick & Friends’ Podcaster, President of Treehaven Communities and Director of Second Slumber has volunteered to be our first Guest Speaker.

Thursday, April 20th, 2023 6:00pm
Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society
1635 Bertram Street Kelowna

Pizza has been generously donated for this event by Papito’s Pizza.

Click here for further details, to RSVP or register as a speaker!


We were honored to spend the last 8 weeks learning about early literacy alongside families with young children from Syria, Ukraine, and Sudan. On the last session, we had a special guest from the ORL – Rutland Branch, and we shared pizza as we celebrated the successful conclusion of the program.

The Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters (IPALS) Program teaches immigrant parents how to support early literacy development for their pre-school age children. Each winter, Project Literacy provides this eight-week program. There is no cost for families to participate in the program with all supplies, books and food for the program provided through Decoda Literacy Solutions and our funders. Click here for more details!

A big thank you to all the participants and to our community partners who made IPALS possible:

The Central Okanagan Family Hub
Childhood Connections


International Women’s Day


On May 25th, 2023, presented by Pushor Mitchell, the 4th Annual Adult Team Spelling Bee Fundraiser will take place at the Coast Capri Hotel in Kelowna! All funds raised from the Team Spelling Bee go toward supporting our literacy programs. The Team Spelling Bee will include coffee, tea, fruit juice and a hot buffet breakfast! The words will be tough but the competition will be even tougher. Teams of eight adults will compete for the Spelling Bee Trophy.

The Team Spelling Bee is a great way to support literacy programs for children and adults.Last year’s winning team was UBC Okanagan aka “U Bee Seeing Us Winning!” They are the newest team to join our other ranking champions on the Spelling Bee Trophy. Will your team “bee” next?


Click here for details.



Our costs are constantly increasing, this includes the basics like rent, heat, electricity, insurance, books, and learning resources. To balance this, we need your help. If you are able to support our FREE literacy programs, here are some additional ways you can contribute.

Thank you for your support!

To Volunteer as a Digital Tutor, click here and complete the form!

New Project Literacy Hoodies!

Sylvester Abanseka, Tutor

Purchase one of our new branded hoodies!

Colour: Charcoal
Brand: Bella + Canvas
Cost: $50.00
Sizes: XS, S, M and L


Colour: Black
Brand: Champion
Cost: $50.00
Sizes: S, M, L, XL, 2XL

Hoodies are available for pick up only.

Payment Options
Cheque payable to Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society
E-transfer to [email protected]


Valentine’s Auction

Ruth Walper, Long-time Tutor

We held a Valentine’s Silent Auction at the beginning of February. We partnered with The View Winery to create a luxury gift basket in order to raise funds for Project Literacy’s community programming!

We are so pleased to share that Ruth Walper was the winner of the basket with a whopping bid of $250!

Thank you to all who bid and thank you, Ruth, for your incredible support!

December 2022 Newsletter

The Snowball

When was the last time you made a snowball? I mean a real snowball, not just a lump of slightly squished snow. When was the last time you were outside, with your toque and gloves on, and you suddenly realized the snow all around you was just right. Just wet, cold, and sticky enough for…well, you know.

And, in that moment, a small delight, an unexpected ah-ha settled into your mind. And with this new realization an irresistible temptation made you smile. Not a friendly smile, more of a mischievous, ready to get into trouble smile. The kind of smile that launches a challenge, or a competition, or a dare. And in that instant, you reached down and scooped some of the precious white into your hand, just to see, just to make sure it is indeed as perfect as you suspected. And as you begin to consider the snow in your hand, it is almost impossible not to give it some shape, to shave away the excess and to pack it a bit firmer; all this happening quickly, almost unknowingly, without you trying to hide it.

Of course, your sudden interest in the snow taking shape in your hand doesn’t go unnoticed by your friend, companion, or significant other, who was only a moment ago standing relaxed, carefree, and calm. But no longer. For they too have noticed the moderate temperature of the air and the slight heaviness of the snow clinging to their boots. And while you were focusing on the snow taking shape in your hand, you were somewhat, but not completely aware that they too had reached down for their own little pile of frosty white. And now you begin to see them going through the same motions with the snow in their hand. And as you watched them, a bit more carefully now, you can’t help but use both your hands to squeeze your snowball a little tighter, a little firmer, just in case.

When there is only person, one snowball, the question of a target is often vague. Maybe it’s a tree, maybe a branch, maybe a post or a sign. But when there are two snowballs, each held by a different person, whether they be friend or foe, the choice of a target becomes much more obvious.

With this understanding and without any words being spoken, the two of you, both smiling but no longer talking, start taking a few backward steps away from each other. These are not rushed steps. They are the slow, measured steps, each one deliberately marking the creation of space. It is as if the two of you have suddenly been transported, lifted into a magical word, where politeness, dos and don’ts, and boundaries are less understood. A world where snow is wet and sticky and plentiful. For, without having had to think about it, with seemingly just knowing, you each created the perfect snowball.

Written by Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director

Project Literacy is excited to announce the launch of our new Friends of Literacy Membership. The Friends of Literacy Membership invites individuals and businesses to become an active funder of needed literacy programs and initiatives in the Central Okanagan. The Friends of Literacy Membership has been gaining momentum since September and now has over 50 Founding Members! These are businesses and individuals who are dedicated to annually funding literacy in the Central Okanagan. Collectively, this group of 53 individuals and 6 businesses has raised over $8,800.00.

Mosaic Books is a Founding Partner of the Friend of Literacy Program. As a partner, they are providing a 10% discount on all in-store purchases by Friends of Literacy Members.

As a literacy charity, Project Literacy has been providing free literacy support to low-income Canadians, refugees, and new immigrants for 36 years. Project Literacy continues to be the only literacy focused charity in the Central Okanagan.

The Friends of Literacy Membership is an ongoing opportunity for businesses and members of the community to help grow and support literacy.

For more information about the Friends of Literacy Program, please visit our website here

Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a list of our Founding 50 Members!

Project Literacy is entirely funded by community grants, sponsorships and donations.Learners of the MonthEach month a new Learner of the Month is chosen to highlight the wonderful accomplishments of our learners. Click here to read their stories and learn more about the people who are helped by our services and our incredible Volunteer Tutors.

IPALS 2023

The Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters (IPALS) Program teaches immigrant parents how to support early literacy development for their pre-school age children. Each winter, Project Literacy provides this eight-week program. This year, the program will run through January and February and will be supporting families from Syria and Ukraine. There is no cost for families to participate in the program with all supplies, books and food for the program provided through Decoda Literacy Solutions and our funders.

Project Literacy is excited to, once again, lead the organization of the 9th Annual Interior Savings’ Unplug & Play and Family Literacy Week event. This is the largest public family event, in Kelowna, during the winter months. Unplug & Play encourages children and families to disconnect or “unplug” from their screens and digital devices so they can explore different ways of spending time together.Interior Savings’ Unplug & Play and Family Literacy Week provides families with free, community supported events and activities. There is no cost to attend or participate in these events. This year, the start of Unplug & Play Week will be celebrated by a large in-person event at the Rutland Centennial Hall at 215 Shepherd Road. This event includes a magic show, interactive activities, games, prizes and snacks for families.

The list and description of all the FREE family events will be posted as they are confirmed. Keep checking Unplug and Play – Unplug and Play Week for an updated list of activities, times, and locations.Interior Savings’ Unplug & Play and Family Literacy Week is organized by Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society and the Partners for Literacy Group.

Interior Savings, Childhood Connections, Okanagan Regional Library

Staff and Board Holiday Party

Project Literacy had our Staff and Board holiday party on Dec 10th. We started the evening by showing off our “athletic” skills at 5-pin bowling at the ‘Bowling for Babies’ fundraiser, hosted by our friends and community partner, Childhood Connections2(3.6%). Following this fun event, we gathered for drinks, appies, games and great conversation.

It was a wonderful way to begin the holiday season!

Decorating Party!

We had a great time decorating for the holiday season! Over the years, all of our decorations have been donated by volunteers. A huge thank you to Gerry Hewitt, Basil and Rita Skodyn and the Project Literacy team for helping to make our Learning Centre festive.For anyone coming to the Centre over the next two weeks, we will be serving free hot chocolate and apple cider. Sending you “warm” wishes for the holiday season!

Thank you to our donors!

On behalf of everyone at Project Literacy, we wish to express our sincere gratitude for the generous charitable donations we have received, this year. The many kind and gracious people and organizations who support Project Literacy allow us to provide a lifeline to literacy for those in dire need of speaking and understanding English so they can earn a living and have a better sense of belonging in our community. As immigration in the Central Okanagan continues to grow, our programs are needed more than ever.To see a list of our incredible 2022-23 Donors, click here

Happy Holidays from Project Literacy!

The Staff and Board of Project Literacy wish you all safe and happy holidays!

May your days be Merry and Bright!

Are you looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity?

Become one of our Volunteer Literacy Tutors!! Project Literacy will provide you with all the support needed to help change someone’s life. You will open doors to a whole new world of belonging and understanding the English language!

If you are interested in tutoring or would like more information, please click here and fill out our volunteer form!

Project Literacy will be closed for the holidays from Friday, Dec 23rd at noon to Monday, January 2nd.

We will reopen Tuesday, January 3rd.


Paul Zuurbier
– It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol (1951 version)

Elaine Johnston
– National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and The Holiday

Katia Bois
– Beethoven’s Christmas Adventure and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (cartoon)

April King
– Charlie Brown’s Christmas and A Muppet Christmas Carol

Learning Centre Hours
Monday 9am – 5pm
Tuesday 9am – 5pm
Wednesday  9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 5pm
Friday 9am – 12pm

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners:

September 2022 Newsletter

The Book on the Bench – continued from the Spring Newsletter

“Hey kid! Over here!” Jack waved as Bashar looked up from the sidewalk. Bashar was staring at a discarded wrapper with the words ‘Kit-Kat’ on the side and wondered what it meant. Looking up from the wrapper he waved back. “Hi Jack! Are we meeting outside today?”

“Yeah kid,” replied Jack. “I’m in the doghouse, so we need to meet here.”

“You have a whole house for your dog?” Bashar asked in amazement as he ran up to the bench where Jack was sitting.

“No. Nothing like that. I’m in the doghouse, it means, well, it’s an expression used for being in trouble.”

“What kind of trouble?” Bashar asked as he sat down.

“The worst kind. Trouble with the wife.” Jack replied.

“She not likes you now? What did you do? Did you go on a banger last night?” asked Bashar. Jack stifled a laugh but couldn’t quite manage to keep from smiling.

“I think you mean a bender. Did I go on a bender last night? The answer is ‘no.’ I can’t handle benders the way I used to. At a certain age you realize it’s better to drink less and wake up more. So how you doing kid?”

“I not a kid.” Bashar complained. “I am a man. A boy is kid.”

“Just a boy?” asked Jack.

Bashar thought for a moment, then added, “Boy or Girl, both can be kid. Right?”

“You go it!” Jack said smiling.

“I got it!” echoed Bashar.

“Your English is pretty good now.” Jack nodded.

“You make it better, Jack. You help me be good!”

“Better.” Jack gently corrected, “I help your English become better.” Jack closed his eyes and winced for a moment as a sudden pain shot through his gut.

“How are you feeling, Jack?” Bashar looked concerned. “You, ok?”

“Yeah, I’m ok.”, Jack said calmly, rubbing his side. “I’m better today. Sorry I couldn’t meet, last week. Last week was rough.”

Bashar looked at Jack closely. “Rough?” he questioned.

“Not good,” explained Jack. 

“Rough means ‘not good’, Bashar asked to be sure.


Bashar nodded. He could tell Jack was rough, Bashar had noticed Jack’s health had been rough for a while, but still he made time to meet with him. Jack was a good man.

“Maybe I can help you leave the doghouse,” Bashar offered.

“The doghouse is not a place.” Jack replied thoughtfully, while thinking how to explain the metaphor.

“I know”, Bashar nodded, “I think I understand. The doghouse is deep shit, right?”

“Exactly right.” Jack agreed. He was frequently surprised at how intuitive Bashar could be.

“How did you get there, Jack?” Bashar probed.

Jack hesitated a moment, then decided it couldn’t hurt to tell Bashar what happened. ‘Well, I tried to talk to my wife, Emma, about what she was going to do when I’m gone. What her plans were. But that just made her upset and when I pushed the issue, she got even more upset and told me to get out of the house.”

“It’s your house too, right Jack?”

“When Emma’s angry, I don’t argue about whose house it is,” replied Jack.

Jack and Bashar sat in silence for a while. They watched the leaves slowly fall from the Maple and Chestnut trees around them. The weather had been cooler for a few weeks now and the piles of leaves were beginning to cover the lawn and street, connecting everything and blurring lines. This will be my last fall, Jack thought.

“You look sad, Jack,” Bashar said while looking down at his shoes.

“I am, Bashar. I am.”

Jack watched a few more leaves fall. Some of them were huge. All the effort for the trees to grow them and now they are just falling to the ground. Jake thought. Soon, they will be swept away and forgotten.

Jack looked over at Bashar. Even though he had only been helping Bashar with his English for a year, he had already seen a huge improvement. Bashar had run his own company, back home, but couldn’t speak a word of English when he arrived in Kelowna. Now, his English was getting pretty good. Good enough to become a bus driver, which is what Bashar wanted, so he could support his family. Jack wanted to help Bashar get into the bus driver training course while he was still well enough to tutor him. If only he had more time. Emma, Bashar, and his family… they were on his mind constantly. How to get them where they all needed to be before he died. As Jack remained lost in his thoughts, a large leaf landed on the bench between him and Bashar. The edges of the leaf were folded together, but when it landed the leaf opened up, like a book. ~One year later…
Emma sat patiently at the bus stop waiting for the number 10 bus to arrive. She was on her way to Okanagan College. After writing some short stories on her own, she decided to take a few writing courses, just for fun. Emma chuckled at the thought. She used to be terrified to write anything. Now she was writing for fun. Somehow, she had learned not to care as much, or perhaps to care in a different way. This was an unexpected gift from life, the gift of a gentle shift.  It was like the subtle changing of a tide, one that was now guiding her towards a shore she’d never seen, but somehow always longed for. 

Emma enjoyed going to college. The kids, as she called them, were so great about her being a part of their class. They didn’t care how old she was, they just accepted her as another student. She loved listening as they tried to fiqure out things she hadn’t thought of in years. She enjoyed being a part of the group and sharing what she knew, knowing it was different from what they were experiencing. And what they knew often surprised her. It was a true education, all around. Emma was grateful for her life again, and she was grateful to Jack, for what he had done, and for who he had trusted and for how it helped her let go.

As her bus approached, Emma finished making a note, then stood up and waited for the bus to stop. When the door opened, she stepped forward and nodded hello to the bus driver. The driver was smiling as he looked at the book tucked under her arm. “Your face is quiet happy Emma. How is your writing today?”

“Just fine Bashar”. Emma replied with a knowing smile. “Just fine.”

Written by Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director

September is Literacy Month!

Help us support Literacy during September. Our annual Raise-a-Reader Fundraiser takes place all month. All funds donated in September are topped up by the Provincial government, making September one of the best times to donate.

Project Literacy is 100% supported by donations and community grants.

Click here for a full listing of fundraising events:  
Events Listing – Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society

“Literacy is the ability to identify, understand, interpret, create, communicate and compute, using printed and written materials associated with varying contexts. Literacy involves a continuum of learning in enabling individuals to achieve their goals, to develop their knowledge and potential, and to participate fully in their community and wider society.” ~ UNESCO 21.

Raise-A-Reader BBQ Fundraiser

Car Wash for Literacy!
Wash your vehicle and change a life!

The Friends of Literacy Program is a unique way to support the growth of literacy in the Central Okanagan. Your annual contribution will allow Project Literacy to better respond to growing literacy needs such as providing support for Ukrainian and Syrian refugees.

Individual Membership:  $100 per annum

In recognition of your support, you will receive a tax reciept and a ‘Friends of Literacy’ membership card. This card can be used to receive a 10% discount on all in-store purchases at Mosaic Books. Simply present your card during check-out to receive this discount.

Business Memberships:  $500.00 per annum

In recognition of your business’ support, you will receive a commemorative plaque, which recognizes your membership and endorsement. In addition, you will also receive a ‘Friends of Literacy’ membership card which can be used for a 10% discount on all in-store purchases at Mosaic Books.

To become a member please click here

Project Literacy has been supporting literacy in the Central Okanagan for 36 years. We are funded by community grants and donations.

Our 2nd Annual Children’s Summer Reading Program was a terrific success! In July and August, we had twelve (12) children participate, completing the program. Thank you to staff members: Katia Bois, Alexa Rood, April King and our wonderful volunteers: Mackenzie Hall, Jennie Corbett, Linda Danforth, Elaine Koren, and Caroline Giles-Hansen for their incredible effort in the delivery of the program.

The Summer Reading Program wouldn’t be possible without the support of our Community Partners.

A huge thank you to:

KCR – Community Resources
Central Okanagan Family Hub – Kelowna
Childhood Connections
The Rotary Club of Kelowna // Morningside

Community Care Garden

For the third summer, the Community Care Garden has grown fresh vegetables for local families. The garden consists of 15 raised garden beds, located outside of Project Literacy’s Learning Centre and the KCR Community Resources building. A huge thank you to our wonderful volunteer waterers, Carolyn Labun and Ezequiel Alanis Gonzalez, and to the staff at KCR and Project Literacy for keeping the garden watered, healthy and growing throughout the spring and summer!

Celebrating Staff Anniversaries

During August and September, we are celebrating two staff anniversaries. Katia Bois, our Education Coordinator started with Project Literacy five years ago and April King, our Office Administrator is celebrating her one-year anniversary with Project Literacy! We are very grateful to have such talented people working with us to support children, families and adults seeking to improve their literacy skills and quality of life.

Thank you, Alexa!

Alexa Rood, our Children’s Education and Promotion Coordinator finished her summer position with us at the end of August. Alexa worked with Katia on the Summer Reading Program and helped out with many projects at the Centre. We wish Alexa all the best in her future studies.

Truth & Reconciliation Day
September 30, 2022

Our Learning Centre will be CLOSED for Thanksgiving on Monday, October 10th.
We hope you have wonderful day celebrating our wonderful nation with your friends and family!

Happy Halloween!

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of “All Hallows’ evening” is a celebration observed in many countries on October 31st. It begins the observance and dedication to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs and all the departed.One theory holds that many Halloween traditions were influenced by Celtic harvest festivals, particularly the Gaelic festival Samhain, which are believed to have pagan roots. Some go further and suggest that Samhain may have been Christianized as All Hallow’s Day, along with its eve, by the early Church. Other academics believe Halloween began solely as a Christian holiday, being the vigil of All Hallow’s Day. Celebrated in Ireland and Scotland for centuries, Irish and Scottish migrants brought many Halloween customs to North America in the 19th century, and then through American influence, Halloween spread to other countries by the late 20th and early 21st century.Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, attending Halloween costume parties, carving pumpkins into jack-o’-lanterns, lighting bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, and watching horror or Halloween-themed films. 
Source: Wikipedia

Volunteer Tutors Needed!!

Are you looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity?

Become one of our Volunteer Literacy Tutors!! Project Literacy will provide you with all the support needed to help change someone’s life. You will open doors to a whole new world of belonging and understanding the English language!

If you are interested in tutoring or would like more information, please click here and fill out our volunteer form!

Learning Centre Hours

Monday 9am – 5pm
Tuesday 9am – 5pm
Wednesday 9am – 7pm
Thursday 9am – 5pm
Friday 9am – 12pm

Can you name these two movies about
high school?

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners:

June 2022 Newsletter

The Book on the Bench at the Corner  – continued from the Spring Newsletter
Emma turned slowly around the kitchen as she mouthed the words of her new favourite song. ‘Where Did You Go?’ by Canadian singer Yvette Lorraine. She loved this song! Every time it came on, she tried to sing with the music. The song was sad but hopeful. It made her feel like one day she could go out and do things. Summer was finally here! She had survived the winter and before winter…her husband’s death, his passing. Emma stopped singing. She hadn’t thought about Jack’s death in a while. She had tried not to. His death brought their 52-year marriage to an end. As he was getting worse, she asked him to fight harder, to stay alive, not to die. She needed him. He said he wouldn’t go. That he’d be ok. He said he loved her more than ever. Then he closed his eyes one afternoon and passed away. She was sitting near him, her eyes closed. She didn’t see him leave. She didn’t have a chance to say good-bye.

“I’m so sorry Jack. I’m sorry I was so tired.” Emma cried as she turned off the radio. The kitchen was instantly quiet. So quiet she could hear her breath rasping between her tears. The only sound came from the low humming of the fridge, and now – a car passing by on the street. Some days she would just stand there and count the sound of passing cars.

Around her, the small kitchen was clean and tidy, reflecting a lifetime habit of proper placement. “Everything has its place, dear,” her mom would tell her. Emma nodded, agreeing with the memory of her mother’s voice. The few dirty dishes were done and put away. The one pot she would use to make dinner was on the stove. The delivered dairy and produce were neatly shelved in the half-empty fridge. This was her life now; one pot meals, single plates, individual cups of coffee, clean counters. Jack was always messy. He had large hands and a gardener’s sense of cleanliness. Jack’s favourite flowers, Daisies, were in a small vase on the kitchen table. She used to place them where he sat for dinner, but it made her cry so much she couldn’t eat. Eventually she moved them to the centre of the table, where they belonged.

Emma moved from the kitchen to the living room. It was even quieter here, just her heart beating. One heart now, instead of two. For a moment the house seemed to separate as her loneliness threatened to swallow her. She felt like she was falling. Her desperate eyes searched for meaning in a barren room. A room without mementos, books, pictures, or magazines; one without candles, figurines, or notepads. In a flurry of purpose and determination, she scooped all their memories up and boxed them into the garage. Then she rushed to Home Sense to buy a new look. She was there for hours but only came home with a small stainless-steel garbage can for the bathroom. You can’t buy your way out of this, a voice echoed in her mind. You won’t find the new you in a store. “I like the old me!” Emma cried, “I knew where everything was.”

A dash of sunlight — the kind that disappears just as you see it — flickered through the front door window, onto a closed book resting on a chair. It was the second book Emma had found. It was improbable that she should have it. It was a small wonder she ever found it. It was on the bench at the corner. The one Jack and she would sit at, on their way home from a walk. Emma discovered the book when she went to return the first one. Of course, she should have left it. She should have left them both. But she didn’t.

Emma picked up the book without opening it. The sunlight danced around her hand. It was both annoying and pleasant. It seemed to be teasing her. “The leaves from the front tree are blocking you,” Emma whispered to the light. The leaves aren’t blocking the light, the voice echoed in her mind, they’re turning to let it reach you.

The book felt heavy in her hand. It had the weight of an obligation, and a promise. “A word, after a word, after a word is power,” as Margaret Atwood would say. Emma turned towards the front door and wrapped her fingers around the door handle. “Doors are meant to open,” she told herself. As she stepped onto the porch, the sunlight brightened. It seemed to be racing past the leaves to reach her. Emma walked forward along the pathway, until she reached the sidewalk. From here, she turned and looked back at their small home. It was once the entire world to her. Now it was just a house beside a tree. Emma held the book up and opened the front cover. There was a handwritten note across the first page. I know you don’t want to, but it’s time to find your place, Emma. To know who you are, without me. It was written in her husband’s handwriting. The rest of the book was full of blank pages. Someone had left this for her. Someone that Jack trusted. Someone who knew she would one day sit on their bench at the corner – and need something she couldn’t grasp on her own.
(read the conclusion… in the Fall Newsletter)

Written by Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director


We are pleased to announce Charlene Covington will be taking on the role of President of the Board. Charlene has been on the Project Literacy Board for the past two years and was the Chair of our 35th Anniversary Planning Committee. Charlene will be taking over from our current President, Laurie Evans, who is retiring from the Board after the June 21st AGM. Charlene is a retired HR Executive and has been a Director on many non-profit Boards. We are looking forward to her guidance and leadership over the next two years.

Departing Board Members

It is with a sad heart we are saying goodbye to four Board members this year. Our current Board President, Laurie Evans, will be retiring from the Board, after our AGM. Laurie has been on the Project Literacy Board for the past four years, and has been Board President for the last two years. Colin Kirkpatrick has been a Board member for the past six years and our Board Treasurer for four years. Jamie Piercy is completing a two year term on the Board as is Rebecca Desjarlais.

A huge thank you to all of you! We wish you great joy and happiness in all your future endeavors.

A massive thank you to the local companies and organizations who participated in our 3rd Annual Team Spelling Bee Fundraiser! This team-building event saw seven teams, with eight people on each team, working together to come up with the correct spelling of each spoken word. Teams had 45 seconds to determine the correct answer. There were three competitive rounds, with five words spelled in each round. The winning team took home the Team Spelling Bee Trophy!

Congratulations to UBC Okanagan for their win as team: “U Bee Seeing Us Winning.”

All funds raised from the Team Spelling Bee went towards supporting our literacy programs. Again, thank you to all participating teams! We look forward to seeing you again next year.

Listen to our Radio Play!

We are so pleased to share the audio file of the original radio play of ‘For Love and Apples.’

‘For Love and Apples’ takes place in Kelowna and focuses on the recent engagement of two seniors who have been together for just a few months. The radio play was  performed and recorded live at the Kelowna Theatre.

Click here to read about this unique production and listen to the performance:

Thank you to our live audience, our wonderful volunteers and funders, our incredible cast of actors, our visionary director and our dedicated tech crew.

We are so proud of this project and hope you enjoy listening!

In partnership with KCR Community Resources and Childhood Connections, Project Literacy is, again, providing a Summer Reading Program for children in grades 1-4. The program runs twice a week (Monday and Thursday) from 9:30am to 3:00pm. Children eligible for the program must be struggling with their grade reading level and be recommended by their school teacher. The reading program is FREE. Books, materials and snacks are provided.

For more information please contact our Education Coordinator, Katia Bois at:  [email protected]

Deadline for registration is July 5.

Community Garden 2022


In partnership with KCR Community Resources, the Community Care Garden is planted and growing fresh vegetables for its third summer season! This year we are thrilled to have Doreen Morash as our Community Gardener. Doreen has planted several different herbs this year as well as tomatoes, peppers, cabbages, broccoli, cucumbers, onions, and many leafy greens. Thank you to all our staff and volunteer waterers for keeping the garden growing and healthy.  The Community Care Garden is active until mid-September. All vegetables grown in the garden go to families in need of fresh produce.

2022 AGM

We are holding our Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, June 21st at 6pm. This year it will be held via zoom. If you would like to attend, please contact April King, Office Administrator, at [email protected] by noon, June 20th, and a meeting link will be sent to you.

The AGM is a great opportunity to bid farewell to our departing Board members and to meet our new ones.

We hope to see you there!!

Meet our Children’s Education and Promotions Coordinator!

Meet Alexa Rood, our Children’s Education and Promotion Coordinator! Alexa will be with us until the end of August and we are thrilled to have her as part of Project Literacy!

Alexa graduated, with distinction, from Thompson Rivers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology Honours.

Under the guidance of Education Coordinator, Katia Bois, Alexa will support the development and delivery of the Children’s Summer Reading Program. She will develop social media content for Instagram and Facebook, including videos, photos and data to help promote the program. She will assist with generating, editing, publishing, and sharing content which will serve to build meaningful connections and encourage our community members to get involved with Project Literacy. You will also see Alexa at our summer community events so make sure to say hello!

Welcome Alexa!

“June is busting out all over” for Pride Month! Project Literacy is open and respectful of all people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Check out this list of great books written by LGBTQIA2S+ authors:

1) ‘I Promise’ by Catherine Hernandez and illustrated by Syrus Marcus Ware
2) ‘This Wound is a World’ by Billy-Ray Belcourt
3) ‘Pride Colors’ written by Robin Stevenson
4) ‘Shout Out’ by 37 different queer creators, edited by Andrew Wheeler

Our Learning Centre will be CLOSED for Canada Day.

The Learning Centre will be closed on Friday, July 1st for Canada Day.

We hope you have wonderful day celebrating our wonderful nation with your friends and family!

Volunteer Tutors Needed!!

Are you looking for a fulfilling volunteer opportunity?

Become one of our Volunteer Literacy Tutors!! Project Literacy will provide you with all the support needed to help change someone’s life. You will open doors to a whole new world of belonging and understanding the English language!

If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information, please contact April at [email protected]. We look forward to having you join our team of dedicated volunteers.

Learning Centre Hours (non-summer)
Monday 9am-5pm
Tuesday 9am-5pm
Wednesday 9am-7pm 
Thursday 9am-5pm
Friday 9am – 12pm (closed for summer months)

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners


March 2022 Newsletter

The Book on the Bench at the Corner

The thin light of winter shone weakly through the pale Okanagan sky. A half light gave a dim brightness to the day but lacked the strength to pass through the window to warm her. The cold days were hard on Emma. She disliked the stiff, indifference of the air. The way it made everything feel separate. Even though the snow had its moments and provided a rolling tidiness to her yard, she longed for spring and the return of birds, green grass, flowers, and walks without the risk of slipping. Emma looked around the living room and into the kitchen. With so much time inside, the small house was tidied to the point of extinction. Not a cup, pot, candle or notepad was out of place. Even her reading glasses were collected into a new decorative basket. As she looked out of the window at the slowly melting snow, she glanced upward and complained. “Come on! Really? Two weeks into spring and this is the best you can do?” Emma sat down on her lounge chair and huffed. She didn’t even have a good book to read. Not anymore. Not since she finished the last one. The one she had found. “I did find it.” Emma reminded herself. “I did.” But there it was again, a nagging thought that maybe she shouldn’t have ‘found it.’ Maybe she should have left it where it was. You only found it because someone else forgot it, a voice whispered in her head. “Well, it wasn’t very good anyway,” Emma said in her defense. You know that’s not true, the whisper persisted. You know you liked it. You like it very much. You read it twice, remember? Emma nodded. She had read it twice, and she did like it. She liked it because it was the kind of book she wished she could write. It was the very book she dreamed of writing, someday. You’re a reader, not a writer, said the whisper. “I can’t write like that,” she said to herself. “I write plainly. If I wrote a book, it wouldn’t be a grand drama, or literacy masterpiece, it would be a memoir, or a cookbook, or a book about flowers. Likely something tedious and unimportant. Simple lines with simple details, that’s all I can do.” Well, you’re in a mood, said the whisper. You won’t ever really know unless you try. Emma sighed and sat in silence for a while before agreeing. “Ok. It was a good book. For all its flaws, it read well and had something interesting to say.” She nodded to herself, daring the whisper to challenge her. When no voice came, she stood up.  “Fine. You win! I’ll put it back. I’ll put the book right back where I found it. Then I won’t have technically found it and I won’t have to be reminded about what I can’t write. I’ll put the book right back where I discovered it and that will be the end of the whole thing.” But you haven’t been outside in weeks! the whisper replied. “Well then you shouldn’t have brought up the whole book thing.” Emma stated to the empty room. Moving towards the bedroom she added, “I’m getting dressed. Then I’m getting my coat and boots on and then I’m taking it back. And that’s all there is to it! And I don’t need another word from you!” Twenty minutes later, Emma was slowly sloshing down the bright snow-melted street of her block. She cautiously moved one foot in front of the other, refusing to take a real step in case she might fall. The book swung awkwardly back and forth in a plastic bag at her side. The sun was getting brighter, making Emma wish she would have thought to bring her sunglasses. Still, in a few moments she’d be there. Emma sloshed forward, stopped, took two more awkward steps then turned to face a small bench, half covered in snow. She looked up one street and down the other, then quickly brushed off one side of the bench and sat down. Now she was just a woman taking a rest. Nothing special. When she started brushing off a spot to put the book, her hand hit something. It was square, solid and covered in snow. Emma slid it closer and lifted it up. To her surprise, it was another book. 

(To be continued… in the Summer Newsletter)

Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director

‘For Love & Apples’ a huge success!

Our original radio play “For Love and Apples” was performed twice at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Sunday, March 27th. This comedy-drama takes place in Kelowna in the present, 1930s and 1800s. It follows the recent engagement of three couples connected through fortune and circumstance. The 2pm and 5pm performances were well attended, with many familiar faces in the audience. Apples, donated by BC Tree Fruits, were sold in the lobby as part of our fundraiser along with socks for our ‘Sock It to Literacy’ Campaign.

A huge thank you to our incredible cast and crew for two wonderful performances! And a big thank you to all who came out to see the play and support this unique endeavour by Project Literacy! 

April 24-30, 2022

We are so grateful to our volunteers who dedicate their time, energy, knowledge and kindness to improve the literacy and lives of our learners.

Please drop by the Learning Centre (1635 Bertram Street) during ‘Volunteer Appreciation Week’ to enter your name into a draw for some special prizes. If you can’t come by in person, email April King, Office Administrator at [email protected] and she will place your name into the draw for you.
Jeff and Ezequiel: A Tutor-Learner Success Story

Jeff and Ezequiel celebrating Ezequiel’s Permanent Residency!

The Learner

Ezequiel was born and raised in Monterrey, the second largest city in Mexico. He has always been very curious, and discovered his love for engineering and computers while he was a child, when he used to disassemble his toys to see how they worked. Later, he started to take computer lessons during the summers. Ezequiel is the oldest of 3 children. He has two sisters who still live in Mexico. He also has a  4 year old daughter named Sara and she has lived longer in Canada, now, than in Mexico. They have two pets: a dog named Nala and a cat named Miztly who still live in Mexico but Ezequiel  is determined to get them here one day.

Life before Project Literacy was not easy for Ezequiel. The stress of moving abroad, escalating issues at work while struggling to keep up on his activities, take notes, have conversations at full speed — this was his first experience living in an English-speaking country. He was determined to meet his personal goals to increase his speed of speaking, learn the regional language, the slang, the “real” English that is entirely different from the one you learn in schools. Project Literacy has helped him by giving him the opportunity to practice with his tutor, Jeff, in an informal and stress-free environment. This, in particular, has helped him a lot. After some sessions, he even noticed how he became more fluent and confident in conversations. The most fantastic thing for Ezequiel is that his tutor helped him practice his English and understand the Canadian culture, the city, his experiences working in Canadian companies and even how investments work in Canada, among other topics. The most important thing for Ezequiel was the friendship that helped him have a sense of belonging. While working with his tutor, Jeff, Ezequiel succeeded at his first Canadian job, passed his IELTS (International English Language Testing System), became a Permanent Resident and accepted a even better job offer from a new company.

Ezequiel’s main hobby is his work, learning new technologies and creating software. From living in Kelowna, he has learned to have different seasonal activities. In the spring, he grows vegetables in his garden, and last summer, he started to practice outrigger canoeing in the lake and went camping as much as he could. Now his daughter loves campfires and grilled sandwiches.

This winter, Ezequiel was learning cross-country skiing, and hopefully, he will continue enjoying more beautiful things here in the Okanagan for a very long time.

The Tutor

Jeff Herman is originally from Montreal. After receiving his MBA from The University of Western Ontario, he settled in Toronto. He had a long career in sales and marketing with a number of technology companies including IBM, Xerox and Hewlett Packard. He has been retired for 9 years. He enjoys golf, hiking, cycling and working out. Aside from sports of all kinds, he also enjoys fine dining and winters in the sun. He has been with his wife, Jackie, for 17 years. Jeff and Jackie have two dogs, Digger and Finn who are both rescues. They hike with them, every morning. Jackie’s family are all in Ireland and Jeff’s are in Israel, so it’s just the four of them in Canada.

Jeff has been volunteering with Project Literacy for approximately 8 years. One of the former Board Members, Florence Bertuzzi, was at his house for dinner one night when Jeff mentioned that he was looking to do some volunteer work to give back to the community. Florence made him aware of Project Literacy and he hasn’t looked back.

Jeff had no previous teaching or tutoring experience aside from leading some sales training courses but he really felt that Canada has been very good to him and he wanted to give something back.

Jeff has met some of the most interesting people of his entire life at Project Literacy. He has also learned a great deal about many countries and cultures from the unique perspective of young dynamic people. He has found it truly rewarding.  

3rd Annual Team Spelling Bee Challenge
May 31st , 2022

Companies and organizations are invited to participate in our 3rd Annual Team Spelling Bee Challenge! This team-building event has teams of eight working together to come up with the correct spelling of each spoken word. Teams have 45 seconds to determine their answer. There are three rounds, with five words spelled in each round. The winner takes home the Team Spelling Bee Cup!All funds raised go towards supporting our literacy programs.

The event starts at 7:15am with a hot breakfast!

The Team Spelling Bee is from 8-8:45am.Click here for more details.

Registration Form deadline is May 17th, 2022.  

We want your old computers!

We are donating our old computers and monitors to the BC Technology for Learning Society. We need your help to meet their quota for a pick up! BC Tech is a registered charity that collects donated computers no older than 2015 (and all types of other tech devices), trains and hires youth to refurbish the computers, and then distributes the computers to schools, nonprofits, libraries, Indigenous groups, and students. They accept used computers, laptops, monitors, printers, and other electronic items from businesses, individuals, and the government. If you would like to donate your old computer tech, please contact April King, Office Administrator at [email protected] and we will gladly take it off your hands!  

Meet our UBCO Summer Intern!

Project Literacy is pleased to provide a one-month internship for Teacher Candidate, Mackenna Galloway! As part of her Bachelor of Education Degree, Mackenna will be interning with Project Literacy for the month of May. Mackenna will be tutoring some of our learners, assisting with the digital literacy program and helping Katia Bois develop the course material for our second ‘Summer Reading Program’ for children in grades 1-4.

Welcome Mackenna!

Our Learning Centre will be CLOSED for Easter.

The Learning Centre is closed for the Easter holidays from Friday, April 15th to Monday, April 18th. We hope you have wonderful long weekend with your friends and family!  

Volunteer Digital Literacy Tutors Needed!!

We are seeking volunteer tutors to help seniors (65+) learn how to operate their personal digital devices. If you have a knack for understanding mobile phones, laptops, and/or iPads, and would like to share this knowledge with a senior, please contact Katia Bois at: [email protected] or call 250-762-2163 Ext. 3.  

We are now OPEN on Fridays!

Project Literacy is now open the following hours:
Monday          9am – 5pm
Tuesday          9am – 5pm
Wednesday     9am – 7pm
Thursday         9am – 5pm
Friday            9am – 12pm  

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners:  

December 2021 Newsletter

A Bend in the Road

Sitting slightly slumped. Staring out the window. Tired but awake. Coffee started. Classical music playing, sounding a bit too intellectual and precise, more than what I’m up for this early winter morning, but loud enough to keep me awake.

Zoe, my cat, is looking out the window, pondering. She’s sitting lazily on the back of the sofa chair, her butt close to my face, but not awkwardly so. Zoe never seems to care where her butt is; only that it’s clean. She’s a very clean cat.

It’s a week before Christmas, and I’m getting ready for my last day of work before the holidays. It’s calm, snowy, and quiet outside. The early morning light is just bright enough for me to see the collection of houses nestled unevenly across the street. Some of them are set forward towards curb, others are nestled further back in their yard. Most have dishevelled driveways. The snow piled high to the edges and scuffed low through the middle by child’s play. The snow displaying scattered toques, single mittens, and red nets decorated with hockey sticks.

There was a lot of good play last night as a cold wind blew our street towards midnight and the start of the school holidays. I was going to stay inside, but a phone call from my neighbour pulled me into the night. Odd, because I’m comfortable indoors, especially when it’s cold. I’ve always been this way, but I’ve learned that being comfortable isn’t the same as having fun. Comfortable is a type of old happiness. It’s eating your favourite snack when you can’t be bothered to make a meal. Or rewatching a movie you like, rather than trying a new one. No surprises, but no disappointment either. New happiness usually takes more effort. Like rushing a puck up and down frozen streets with kids slashing at your heels.

My coffee is finally ready. I pour a cup and turn the radio from Classical to Folk. There is something simpler about Folk music. Even the word sounds softer. Folk isn’t trying to be sophisticated. It doesn’t care about structure or instrumentation. Folk songs tell a story by singing about how life feels, with just enough music to keep the words company.

Zoe stares at me from the carpet by the fireplace as I finished my cup of coffee. Outside the first car of the morning drives by, likely on their way to work. The car slows down as it goes around an odd jog in the road.

The road is plain enough, but the bend in the middle of the block is a mystery. It creates a sudden curve, which demands attention. The remnant of an old pathway, I suspect, a road once followed by horse drawn wagons, old milk trucks, and cows changing pastures. I imagine an ancient tree once stood there and the road was built around it.

For some reason, though, the road was never straightened out.  I doubt the bend would be allowed today. The city planners would require an even street. But back in the 30s, when this neighbourhood was planned, both the cars and the roads blended more lines and curves than they do today.

I finish dusting the snow off my truck as a woman with her two young children walk by. I give them the morning wave. The kids wave back. I see them each morning as I’m pulling out of my driveway. Me commuting to work, the kids weaving off to school.

Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director

35th Anniversary Celebrations a Huge Success!

A huge thank you for helping us celebrate our 35thAnniversary! Over the past year, we’ve organized several unique events, including a room dedication to Jean Lee, our longest serving volunteer, a short story writing contest, the creation of a photo collage, featuring volunteers both past and present, and the writing and production of an original radio play. We also featured five in-depth stories of people who have benefited from the support of Project Literacy.

Project Literacy started as an idea. The idea was to help people who fall through the cracks. To help people who struggle with literacy, so they can have a better life. Our vision today, remains “to empower individuals to reach their literacy goals.” This is as important now, as it was 35 years ago. With your support, we know Project Literacy will continue to provide literacy support to children, families and adults in the Central Okanagan, for years to come.  

A Radio Play ‘For Love and Apples

The radio play “For Love and Apples” is a one-hour romantic-comedy, which takes place in Kelowna. It will be performed and recorded live at the Kelowna Community Theatre on Sunday, February 6th, 2022, at 2pm and 5pm.The play follows the awkward marriage proposals of three couples; Marcel and Gail, who are in their sixties, Dorothy and Richard, who are in their twenties, and Sweetgrass and Philippe who live near Kelowna in the 1890s. As the couples work out their marriage proposals, they discover they are all connected through time and circumstance.

Tickets are available online, by donation at:  

Raya and Alex: A Tutor-Learner Success Story
Raya                                                Alex

Raya and her husband are from Iran. They immigrated to Canada in August 2019 to start new careers. Raya studied Computer Engineering in Iran. She has seven years of experience in software development and support. To secure a career in Computer Engineering in Kelowna, Raya needed to improve her proficiency in English. At Project Literacy, Raya met with Elaine, one of our Education Coordinators to be assessed for the One-to-One Adult Tutoring program. Elaine works closely with the tutors and learners to determine the best fit to make sure the tutor can help the learner reach their goals.

Raya worked closely with her tutor, Alex, over two years to improve her proficiency in English. Raya and Alex first started to work on vocabulary, idioms, speaking and listening. Graduating to The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) curriculum. Raya used the IELTS textbook of taking personal stories in Farsi, translating them into English and present to Alex in a simulated exam situation. Alex says, “his experience with Raya, over the last two years, has been very positive and fruitful. She is a highly intelligent and educated young lady.”

Raya improved her English and, therefore, her confidence while working successfully at entry level jobs in Kelowna. Raya interviewed at a computer company and secured a full-time position. Raya’s hard work to improve her proficiency in English paid off. Raya says, “Alex is very caring and friendly. I always looked forward to his classes. He not only helped me to improve my English, but also gave me the self-confidence to communicate in English.”

Raya and her husband are looking forward to the day they acquire Canadian citizenship.  

Project Literacy’s Short Story Contest Deadline for Submissions Now Closed!
Thank you to all those who submitted their writings. The submission deadline has closed. Judging will now commence.

Contest winners will be notified end of January, 2022 with an official awards ceremony held February 6th, 2022 prior to our radio play performances.  

It’s time to get rid of your old computer!

We are donating our old computers and monitors to the BC Technology for Learning Society. BC Tech is a registered charity that collects donated computers (and all types of other tech devices), trains and hires youth to refurbish the computers, and then distributes the computers to schools, nonprofits, libraries, Indigenous groups, and students. Since 1994, they have delivered the Computers for Schools Plus program across British Columbia, distributing over 180,000 computers!

They accept used computers, laptops, monitors, printers, and other electronic items from businesses, individuals, and the government. If you would like to donate yours, please contact April King, Office Administrator, for more details: [email protected] and we will glad take it off your hands!  

We are Hiring!!

Project Literacy is hiring a Part-time Resource Development Officer.

For more information about this position please go to:    

Our Learning Centre will be CLOSED for the Holidays.

The Project Literacy Learning Centre is closed for the holidays from Friday, December 24th to Monday, January 3rd, 2021. We will be back to welcome you to the New Year on Tuesday, January 4th, 2022.  

Volunteer Digital Literacy Tutors Needed!!

We’re seeking volunteer tutors to help seniors with their digital devices. If you have a knack for understanding mobile phones, laptops, and iPads, and would like to share this with a senior, please contact Katia Bois at: [email protected] or just drop by the learning centre.  

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners:

October 2021 Newsletter
Thanksgiving and Reflection

First Nation Territory Names                       First Nation Children’s Books  

The fall is often a time of reflection. The weather cools. Leaves turn from green, to red and orange, the days become shorter and our daily routine adjusts to accommodate the new season. During this time, we often reflect back and consider: “What has been accomplished? What have we done? And where are we going?” This year, the Federal government established a new holiday:  ‘Truth and Reconciliation Day’. Truth and Reconciliation Day took place on Thursday, September 30. It was created in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for a statutory holiday, which honours Residential School survivors, their families, and communities, and ensures the public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools. It was created as a day of reflection. A day when Canadians could consider their relationship with Indigenous communities and the legacy of this relationship. On September 30th, many people chose to wear orange shirts, in acknowledgment of the ‘Every Child Matters’ movement, which aims to raise awareness and draw attention to the plight of Indigenous children who attended residential schools. The Residential School system operated in Canada from 1881 to 1996. At its peak, over 80 Residential Schools were open and running in Canada at the same time. Indigenous children were forcibly removed from their families and made to live at the school. For the first 70 years, the residential schools only taught children three hours a day. For the rest of the day the children were forced to do manual labour, either to raise money for the school or to reduce the school’s operating expenses. A typical school day for children as young as 5 years old was: 5:30am – woken up 6-6:30am – attend morning Chapel 6:30 to 7:30am – chores (cleaning, making beds, sweeping rooms, laundry) 7:30am – breakfast 8-9am – more chores, especially for boys 9am to 12pm – school 12-12:30pm – lunch 12:30 to 2pm – recreation 2-4pm – trade work (farming, cutting wood, tending farm animals) 4-6pm – more chores 6-7pm – supper 7-8pm – recreation 8pm – bedtime In 1969, the system was taken over by the Department of Indian Affairs, ending church involvement. The government decided to phase out the schools, the last Residential school closed 30 years later, in 1996.Twelve years after the last Residential School closed, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on behalf of the Government of Canada, offered an apology to all former students of residential schools in Canada. The apology openly recognized that the assimilation policy on which the schools were established was “wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country.” The apology recognized the profoundly damaging and lasting impact the schools had on Indigenous culture, heritage and language.”

The final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, published in 2015, outlined several “undeniable” conclusions about the Residential School system: First, the federal government failed to set clear goals and standards for education at the residential schools.

Second, the curriculum at residential schools was essentially an elementary curriculum, which reflected a belief that Indigenous people were intellectually inferior.

Third, the government did not develop or implement a policy regarding teacher qualification.
In short, the education and vocational training provided by residential schools was completely inadequate.

Source: Thanksgiving, as we reflect on all the goodness in our life, we may also want to remember that goodness changes. It is not a fixed mark, but something we carry inside of us. We cannot always count on the government to do what is right. Sometimes, the government is wrong. A reflection on the mistaken views of the past will better enable us to protect against other types of discrimination while supporting the values of diversity and equality in the present.

To learn the name of the Indigenous land your live on, go to this website and type in your address:

To learn more about indigenous culture, head down to your favourite bookstore and pick up one of the many wonderful books by First Nation authors. Or pick out a First Nation children’s book and read it to your child or grandchildren.

Paul Zuurbier
Executive Director

Upcoming Events!!

We are continuing to celebrate our 35th Anniversary with
Short Story Contest and A New Radio Play!

Short Story Contest

Project Literacy is excited to be hosting a short story contest!“

As though she had entered a fable, as though she were no more than words crawling along a dry page, or as though she were becoming that page itself, that surface on which her story would be written and across which there blew a hot and merciless wind, turning her body to papyrus, her skin to parchment, her soul to paper.”  ~ Salman Rushdie

A writer once said, “We may not all have a novel within us, but we are sure to have a damn good story!”

The short story contest will accept submissions from youth (under 18) and from adults (19 and over). Submissions will be accepted from Monday, November 1 to Friday, December 17th.

Click here for more information and to download the submission form:

Project Literacy organizes the production of a new radio play!

In celebration of our 35th anniversary, Project Literacy is producing a radio play! Lee Karvonen, lead of the Geri-Actors Troupe from the Society for Learning in Retirement has co-written the play with our Executive Director, Paul Zuurbier. The radio play is funded through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

The play is written specifically for seniors in our community! It is a historical romantic comedy, which follows the lives and loves of two couples, both in the past and in the present.

Call for Director!

Project Literacy is holding a CALL FOR DIRECTORS for our upcoming Radio Play. The one-hour radio play will be performed and recorded live at Kelowna Community Theatre on January 23rd, 2022. We are looking for a creative, talented and experienced director who is interested in creating Radio Play magic! Previous radio play experience is an asset. Due to funding guidelines, the director must be 60 years of age or older. An honorarium will be provided.

Interested Directors are asked to provide: 1 copy of your theatre CV (focusing on Director experience) 1 reference Please submit your application to Project Literacy via: Email: [email protected]

Mail or In Person:  1635 Bertram Street, Kelowna, BC, V1Y 2G5 Application Deadline:  Wednesday, October 20th, 2021

Project Literacy will review all applicants. Only Directors chosen for an interview will be contacted.

Thank you for your interest in supporting Project Literacy!

Casting Call

Auditions will be held at the end of November with the majority of roles performed by seniors.

Two live performances/recordings will take place at the Kelowna Community Theatre – Main Stage, on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022. All are welcomed to attend! Contact [email protected] for ticket information.  

Learner Success Story

Hamed Ghannad and his wife Faezeh came to Kelowna, from Iran, in December of 2010 because Faezeh got accepted into the PhD program at the University of British Columbia – Okanagan (UBCO). Faezeh completed her PhD and is a food scientist. Hamed has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. They have a son, Ryan, who is 4 years old.

Hamed and Faezeh arrived around Christmas. A time all about family and love. Already feeling homesick, missing family and friends, life for them was not very exciting compared to their lifestyle back home. Hamed and Faezeh found it hard to adjust to their new life in Kelowna. Back home things were very busy and dynamic. Hamed was a rock musician and a manager of engineering projects. Being far from home in a completely new place with no friends was difficult.

Hamed started searching to find things to occupy his time. He heard about Project Literacy and started working one-on-one with a tutor. Meanwhile, he was looking for a job. Hamed’s goal was to advance his English skills and appreciate the culture to a greater degree, so he could find a job in his field. However, there were not many industrial opportunities in Kelowna, at the time, and he had no luck in finding any relatable jobs to his degree and work experience. He soon started looking for other options.

Hamed’s tutor, Ryan Klassen, supported him a lot and helped him in developing his language skills and understanding Canadian culture. Hamed and Ryan are still good friends today.

Attending Project Literacy was the highlight of Hamed’s life. At the time he was lonely and didn’t have friends. Project Literacy helped him to improve his communication skills giving him confidence to make friends. Making friends brought excitement back into his life, and kept him busy. He thought it was great to know the stories of other immigrants and he made new lifetime friends.

Hamed got a job as a produce clerk at Peter’s Your Independent Grocer. After a year and a half, Hamed was promoted to Produce Manager. Hamed worked hard as a Manager; happily working overtime, if needed. He loved the environment and tried his best to make it better. Hamed used his management skills from previous experience back in Iran to run the department before he was offered the job six months later. Hamed increased sales by 42% in his first year as Manager and was one of the top selling produce departments in all Your Independent Grocers. Hamed is thankful to Peter, the owner of Peter’s Your Independent Grocer, for giving him the chance to grow and advance his managerial skills in Canada. Being far away from family, Hamed looks to Peter as a father figure.

Hamed worked for 8 years as the Produce Manager. After Faezeh graduated with her PhD, Hamed started his own business. He felt it was time to move on and found an opportunity he liked so he went for it. With seven years in the cement industry, back home, he was familiar with the concept and confident enough to start his own business. Hamed’s business: Stone Brothers Countertops Ltd., prepares and installs countertops and takes on renovation projects in bathrooms and kitchens.

Faezeh is doing great. After her graduation in 2015, she is leading R&D projects in the Pharmaceutical and Natural Health Products. Ryan, who is named after Hamed’s tutor, loves painting, singing, making art and biking. He graduated from daycare and is starting kindergarten in September.

  Ryan Ghannad graduating Kindergarten.

All these years and through ups and downs of a life of an immigrant, Hamed kept his music career alive. His band “The Ways” is still producing music for fans in Iran and other countries. You can stream “The Ways” music through Instagram, Spotify, SoundCloud and YouTube.  Hamed is grateful for all the opportunities and great people that he has met over the past ten years of his journey in Canada.


A big welcome to our new Office Administrator, April King! April started with us on Thursday, September 8th. She has a background in Theatre and has worked for several local charities before joining Project Literacy.

Volunteer Fair a Huge Success!

Volunteers Jeff and Amir at the KCR Volunteer Fair.

The annual Central Okanagan Volunteer Fair was held on Saturday, September 18th. There was a record number of people interested in volunteering for Project Literacy. At the end of the Fair, over 50 people had signed up for volunteer tutoring. A big thank you to Jeff, Amir and Bev for helping Elaine and April with our volunteer booth! We received over 50 applications from people interested in volunteering as a tutor for adults or to help children in grades 1-4 with their reading.  

We’re Recruiting New Board Members! The Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society is currently looking to expand their Governance Board of Advisors. Our thoughtful and innovative Board helps set the tone and direction of Project Literacy. We have a wide range of skills and backgrounds on our Board and, above all, we are passionate community builders that care deeply about the success and growth of Project Literacy. If you’re interested in learning more about this opportunity or if you have questions about our Board of Advisors, please reach out to our Recruitment Committee Chair, Alexandra Reid at [email protected].  

The Community Care Garden wraps up another great season of providing vegetables and Food Literacy information to our community. A big thank you to volunteers Byron, Meg, Alida, Lucky and all the staff at Project Literacy and KCR for keeping the garden well-watered over the summer months!

  Raise-a-Reader Our annual September Raise-a-Reader fundraiser was held, again, during September and we have raised over $25,000! A huge thank you to the many supporters and volunteers who donated to Raise-a-Reader! All donations received during the month of September are topped up by the provincial government; making September the best month to donate! All funds raised during Raise-a-Reader go towards supporting our One-to-One Children’s Reading and Adult Literacy Program.  

  Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners

Summer 2021 Newsletter

Remember Your Toes

Remember your toes? Those five little digits living at the end of your foot. When you start to think your life is tough, think of them. Hidden away in socks and shoes most of the year. Living with poor ventilation, restricted movement and questionable hygiene. Living close to the ground and kept in the dark, they seldom receive any real attention. Still, they carry on, day to day, living a quiet, thankless, unassuming life with only the occasional nail clipping as appreciation for all they do. Their glamourous cousins, our fingers, steal all the attention. Fingers live flashy lives right out in the open. They spend most of their life feeling their way around. They get to open doors, carry popcorn, dance across keyboards, drive our car and run through our hair. They are the first part of our body to be decorated with rings and nail polish. Our ears and thumbs try to compete, but it’s really our fingers who get to live the life of minor celebrities. There is only one time of year when our toes get to shine. That’s the Good ‘ol Summertime! Released from their confinement, they are finally allowed out in the open. They can breathe in the fresh air in a pair of opened toes shoes or sandals. And if the weather is really hot, they delight in waves of ups and downs from a fast-moving flip flop. Ah…summer! Toes in the sand. Toes in the water. Toes on the grass. Toes in the air! Toes. Toes. Toes. For these few months we forget our hands and marvel at our feet. How freeing it is to have our toes out in the open. “Hey there little guys”, we ask, “How have you been?” If they could answer, they might say, “Well, you could wash your socks more often. You could keep the shower tub a little cleaner, and it wouldn’t hurt if you reached down and scrubbed between us once and a while, seriously!” Over the summer, enjoy the sunshine, the beach, and the hot weather. And remember to thank your toes. It’s their season too!

Paul Zuurbier,
Executive Director  

Celebrating our 35th Anniversary!

We are so grateful and excited to be celebrating our 35th Anniversary. A huge thank you to all the dedicated volunteers, Board members and staff who have helped to ensure the needed literacy support Project Literacy provides has continued for all these years. Project Literacy is still the only literacy based, non-profit, charity organization providing free literacy support services to children, families, adults and seniors in the Central Okanagan. We continue to support over 250 individuals each year. Many of our learners have gone on to become successful businesspeople and professionals in this community. With your support we look forward to continuing our legacy of diverse and accessible literacy support for low income families and immigrants in the Central Okanagan.

Owners of the Bai Tong Restaurant and Project Literacy

Kitti and Jamjit Karunyasopon and their two young sons arrived in Kelowna in 2000. They came  from Thailand where they had professional careers and strong family ties. Kitti and Jamjit made the decision to emigrate to Canada because of the opportunities Canada offered them and their young family. When they arrived in Kelowna, Kitti and Jamjit spoke little English and spent several difficult years in this new, very alien environment. They felt isolated and insecure, not knowing Canadian customs or culture. They were determined to open a Thai restaurant in Kelowna to provide their family with a financially secure future, but to do so, they needed to improve their English literacy skills.

In 2004, Kitti and Jamjit were referred to Project Literacy (Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society) and this changed their lives. They not only learned English but were encouraged to achieve their goals and, as Kitti said “to never give up.” In 2006, they opened Bai Tong restaurant with Kitti managing the restaurant and Jamjit preparing delicious, authentic Thai food.  Bai Tong is located at 275 Bernard and has an outdoor patio. In 2007, the whole family became Canadian citizens.

For the past 17 years Kitti and Jamjit have been giving back to the community. They returned to Project Literacy frequently and offered jobs in their restaurant to other Canadian immigrants. They have volunteered extensively in the community and, throughout the years, have donated their time and money to several agencies and foundations.

In 2012, Kitti and Jamjit partnered with Project Literacy on a fundraiser. The month-long event called “Dine & Donate,” raised $4000.

Their son, Poom returned to Bangkok, Thailand and trained at the Blue Elephant Cooking School and Restaurant. He now plays a key role at Bai Tong and has continued their very generous contributions to Project Literacy. Similar fundraisers were held in 2013, 2016, 2017 and 2019. Over the past 14 years, Kitti, Jamjit and Poom, through their Bai Tong Restaurant fundraisers, have contributed close to $10,000 to Project Literacy.

In celebration of our 35th Anniversary, Project Literacy is honoured to recognize this outstanding family which has given so much to the greater community of Kelowna. At Project Literacy we continue to thrive, in part, because of the generosity and commitment of people like Kitti and Jamjit who give back to an organization which has meant so much to their family. Check out Bai Tong for authentic Thai cuisine.   

2021 Annual General Meeting

Our AGM was held on June 15. It was well attended by all the Board of Directors, Staff and many volunteers. Project Literacy’s ability to continue to thrive during the pandemic was noted in the President’s report along with our ability to successfully provide all our programs online when needed, and the dedication of the staff in keeping the Learning Centre open and safe for in-person tutor and learner matches.

The past year saw the creation of the Community Care Garden, a community partnership with KCR Community Resources, the development of online versions of our Adult Tutoring and Children’s Reading Programs, and the on-line delivery of our Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters Program.
The Board of Directors remains unchanged as we go into our new fiscal year, with Laurie Evans continuing as Board President, Shirley Hutchinson, continuing as Vice President, Colin Kirkpatrick continuing as Treasurer, Alexandra Reid continuing as Board Secretary and Charlene Covington, Rebecca Desjarlais, Jane Cartwright, and Jamie Piercy continuing as Board Directors.
The Board and Staff are looking forward to the year ahead and the continued celebration of our 35th Anniversary!

Emily the Summer Student

Project Literacy is pleased to have Emily Chu join our team as a summer student. Emily will be working as our Promotion and Education Coordinator until the end of August. Emily will be supporting our social media campaign and will assist with the Summer Reading Program. Emily is going into her third year in Fine Arts at the University of British Columbia.  

Project Literacy launches Children’s Summer Reading Program!

We’re thrilled to be offering a summer reading program for children going into grades 2 and 3. The Summer Reading Program will take place twice for three weeks during the summer. The program will take place at the Learning Centre on Tuesday and Thursdays from 9:30am to 12-noon. There may be some disruption to the regular availability of lesson rooms during program hours. To learn more about our Summer Reading Program, contact Katia Bois: [email protected]

The Community Care Garden is now up and running for our second year. This year the Garden is being generously sponsored by Fortis BC. The Community Care Garden provides over 250 lbs of produce each year to families in need of fresh produce. Last year the garden supported over 50 families over the spring-summer months (May to September). The Community Care Garden is a partnership with KCR Community Resources. The garden is watered by staff and volunteers! Thank you, Byron, Meg and Lauren, for watering on the weekends!!


Original Canadian Radio Play Under Development!

Project Literacy is pleased to be producing a radio play with support from the Society for Learning in Retirement. An original script is currently being developed by Lee Karvonen with support from our Executive Director, Paul Zuurbier. Sound design and recording will be done by local recording artist and performer Jodi B.

Auditions for the radio play will be held in late September, with a live performance and recording of the play taking place in November. The majority of the roles will be performed by seniors. Please stay tuned for more information!  

The annual Raise-a-Reader fundraiser will be held again this year during September. Centered around International Literacy Day (Wednesday, September 8), Raise a Reader is our largest fundraiser of the year! All funds raised during Raise a Reader go towards supporting our children and adult literacy programs. All funds raised during Raise-a-Reader are matched by the Provincial Government. The best time to donate is in September. Thank you for supporting Project Literacy!

Adult Team Spelling Bee

We are thrilled to be preparing for our third annual Adult Team Spelling Bee! This year the Spelling Bee will be held on Thursday, September 30. Depending on COVID health restrictions in place in September, the Team Spelling Bee will likely again have teams of four competing for the Spelling Bee Trophy and bragging rights for a year! We will begin registering teams for the fundraiser in August.  

Check out the Project Literacy Facebook and Instagram pages to stay informed and up to date!  

Meet Lenny the Literacy Llama! Lenny is a fun way to encourage literacy with adults and children. Look for Lenny in our social media and at events!  

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners.


Spring 2021 Newsletter

The Earth is always open

There is something magical about the Crocus flower. It seems like such a fragile plant, this first flower of Spring. It grows just above the near frozen ground, has almost no stem; its bright tiny blossoms reaching with determination towards the distant sun.  Brave little dudes; facing off against the morning frost and the last weeks of winter. It’s no surprise the Crocus is considered a symbol of hope. Many of us are looking for signs of hope these days. Perhaps, the best place to find it is close to the ground. The earth is a great starting point for hope. If trust is built upon the firm reliability of someone or something, then the earth can be appreciated as a very reliable partner. It keeps us alive. And yet, the earth often remains the elephant in the room. The one thing we need most, but seldom discuss in relation to our physical and mental health. Technology is always evolving. Governments and societies change. Even viruses like COVID will eventually pass. If you’re needing some hope during this time of uncertainty, it may be helpful to spend some thoughtful time outside, pause, take a deep breath and really connect with nature. Feel the earth beneath your feet. More than anyone, the earth knows what we need and it is always open.

Paul Zuurbier,
Executive Director  

Get Going with Literacy Contest!

We have launched our first online fundraiser! Get Going with Literacy is a fun contest- fundraiser, which runs until Saturday, April 24. The contest involves submitting a photo or video related to your favourite type of literacy.  If you like to cook, this involves food literacy, if you like yoga, this is physical literacy, if you like music, this is musical literacy, if you like to dance, this is cultural literacy (every culture has a unique dance style). Be creative and create a photo or video, which inspires others to vote for your entry! There are prizes for best photo and video, plus People’s Choice prizes. Enter your favourite photo here:

All funds raised go towards supporting our free literacy programs for children, families and adults.

Learner Spotlight – Jane and Gerry

Jane, her husband Scott and their three boys are from Korea. The education system in Korea is intense. The children study many subjects from morning to night. The children are so busy there is not enough time to play. They often lack sleep, and they can be very stressed. By comparison, in Canada children have more variety in the subjects they study at school. The children seem to be more relaxed and happier. Jane and Scott came to Canada for the children to benefit from a Canadian education and to learn English. They believe Canada is a safe place to live. Jane and her family enjoy exploring the Okanagan and going camping. When first arriving in Canada Jane was unable to speak any English. Jane’s greatest need was to learn to have a conversation in English. She wanted to understand English for everyday use such as shopping, appointments, discussions with her children’s teachers and for finding work. Jane heard about Project Literacy through KCR Community Resources. Jane met with Elaine, one of our Education Coordinators. Elaine assesses people who want to be tutored in English. Elaine works closely with the tutors and learners to determine the best match and to make sure the tutor can help the learner reach their literary goal. Jane was matched with a tutor, Gerry, in October 2018. Jane and Gerry met once a week for a year and a half. Jane started by learning sentence structures, vocabulary, and pronunciation. During Jane and Gerry’s time together, Jane gained confidence and began working as a server. Jane would discuss with Gerry the challenges she had at work with her English. Gerry says “To help Jane overcome this challenge we would find ways to use relevant language by role playing as customers and taking telephone orders. This helped Jane feel more comfortable and confident. We laughed a lot!” During COVID Jane has gained a lot of experience taking phone orders at her place of employment and earned a promotion! Jane continues to make steady progress with her English. Learning English takes time and Jane has taken on the challenge with determination. Jane is continually asking questions and wanting to know more. Jane’s enthusiasm for learning will help her reach her next goal of writing the Canadian English Language Proficiency Index Program (CELPIP) test. Once Jane passes CELPIP, she wants to study English at Okanagan College. Jane often says, “she waits for Mondays when Gerry and her can meet for coffee!” She enjoys this time because she is relaxed and, at the same time, she is improving her English. She says, “It feels so good!”  

Project Literacy is celebrating our 35th Anniversary year!

Project Literacy started with a few dedicated volunteers back in 1986. From humble beginnings we’ve grown into a regional organization with over 120 dedicated volunteers and four full-time staff. Together we support over 200 learners a year!For those too young to remember what it was like back in ’86, Female artists were leading the pop charts, with the number one hits like Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” and “How Will I Know” to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and, of course, Madonna’s “Live To Tell” and “Papa Don’t Preach.”The number one movie was Top Gun, staring Tom Cruise. Interestingly, Cruise has another Top Gun movie coming out this Spring. The more things change, the more they….

Help us Celebrate!

We are requesting our wonderful volunteers send us their favourite headshot. We’re going to combine these to create a photo collage of the number 35. We’ll then send a print quality file to all our volunteers. If you would like to participate in the project, please email us your photo by Sunday, April 18.  Send to [email protected]. There are many more celebrations being planned. Please keep an eye out for notices of events and activities posted around the Learning Centre during the coming year.

Room Dedication!

In Celebration of our 35th Year, we are dedicating Lesson Room 3 to long time tutor, Jean Lee. Jean has volunteered with Project Literacy for 30 years. She is our longest serving volunteer. In April, we will be holding a small ceremony to dedicate Room 3 in her honour. If you haven’t been at the Learning Centre for a while, next time you’re here you will notice there are several changes to the room, which are there to help acknowledge the special person it celebrates.  

Immigrant Parents as Literacy Supporters (IPALS) Program

This year’s IPALS Program supported six Chinese families and six Korean families with young children. For the first time the program was offered online. Katia Bois was the facilitator. The programs take eight weeks to complete and teaches immigrant parents how to develop early literacy skills in their children, so their children can be better prepared for Kindergarten.
Here are some photos of this year’s participants:

Unplug and Play Week

Interior Savings Unplug and Play Week runs from Sunday, April 18 to Saturday, April 24, 2021. Unplug and Play encourages children, families, and communities to unplug from their screens and explore different ways of spending time together. Interior Savings Unplug and Play Week provides families with free, community supported activities so they can increase their time spent participating in healthy, interactive fun! Check out the Unplug and Play Week website to see all the fun happening in the community!

Project Literacy is producing a new, original Radio Play!

Project Literacy has been awarded funding through the New Horizons For Seniors Program to support seniors in the Central Okanagan to write, direct, perform and record an original radio play! We have partnered with the Seniors Learning in Retirement Society to help us connect with seniors who are interested in being involved with the project. The radio play will be recorded and performed in front of a live audience in the fall. If you’ve missed being on stage, or watching a play, stay tuned for more details on auditions and performance dates!
Design Day For GOOD

Project Literacy is honoured to be a part of this year’s Design Day For GOOD. Design Day For GOOD showcases the skills of our local design and marketing professionals by providing local nonprofit organizations with custom-designed collateral materials. Design Day For GOOD is recognized internationally for their professional designations, ethics and standards. Design Day for GOOD is presented as a way to help build stronger communities through volunteering services. This year’s Design Day takes place on Saturday, April 17.  

Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners

Winter 2020 Newsletter

It’s comin’ on Christmas

Since its original release in 1971, Joni Mitchell’s iconic song ‘River’ has become a surprise Christmas favourite. Its melancholy tone and lyrics of loneliness and regret resonate with many people who find this holiday season emotionally difficult. I heard the song recently on my drive to work and it made me curious about how Christmas began. Was it always so cheerful? This is what I was able to find out… Christmas was first declared a formal holiday in England in 1448. Long before this, the Winter Solstice, which takes place on December 21, was celebrated. December 21 is the date when the earth is at its furthest tilt away from the sun, causing maximum darkness and the year’s shortest day. Seems like weeks of long dark days could be cause for some despair, so I decided to continue researching. Originally Christmas was called ‘The Feast of the Nativity’ by Pope Julius I – who, in the fifth century -dedicated this feast to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. This was done through ‘The Mass of Christ’ (Christ’s mass, or Christmas). Prior to this, from the time of Emperor Aurelian, in the third century, the Romans celebrated December 25 as ‘Sol Invictus’ The Birthday of the Sun. The 1953 hit Christmas Song “Cool Yule” by Louis Armstrong, owes its name to the Yule Time celebrations of the Germanic and Scandinavian people. Yule Celebrations predate the celebration of Christmas by hundreds of years. Still, some of today’s most cherished holiday traditions have their origin in Yule Time. These include: Holly – which was hung inside to bring good luck and to celebrate the start of longer days Mistletoe – a feminine symbol representing fertility, was worn by young women The Yule Tree – a symbol of continual life, used to celebrate the return to light, is now our Christmas Tree Wreaths – symbolize the wheel of the year and the completion of another cycle. They were made of evergreens, adorned with cones and berries, and hung as decorations Caroling – The word ‘Carol’ means dance or song of praise! As with today, Carols were sung out loud in a group as songs were shared with the community. Although the end of December represents the year’s darkest days, our collective human heritage for this time of year is full of celebration. The time of Christmas, for both Christians and non-Christians, is a celebration of the light we bring each other and the light to come.

Paul Zuurbier,
Executive Director  


Keep you and your loved ones warm this holiday season!

Project Literacy’s ‘Wool For Winter’ Campaign offers women and men’s cozy merino wool socks for $10/pair (includes taxes). Funds raised will be used to support our community literacy programs. Merino wool socks are a must-have in the cold season and are great to wear while reading by the fire. To assist you with your order please contact Kate at [email protected] or at 250-762-2163.

Learner Spotlight – Mohammed and Dennis

Mohammad is from Yemen. He has his PhD in Electrical Engineering. Mohammad came to Kelowna, in 2017, to work on his PhD at the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBCO). He initially arrived by himself, leaving his wife, Fatima, and their two children behind. Fatima and the children were reunited with Mohammad in 2018. Mohammed wanted to improve his accent and to learn Canadian customs. He was referred to Project Literacy by fellow students at the university. At Project Literacy, Mohammed met with Elaine, one of our Education Coordinators. Elaine works closely with the tutors and learners to determine the best fit, and to make sure the tutor can help the learner reach their literacy goals. Elaine paired Mohammed with Dennis and they have been working together since April 2019.Mohammed says, “working with Dennis has helped my verbal communication when lecturing at UBCO.” His success in the One-to-One Adult tutoring program inspired his wife, Fatima, to learn English. Learning English has helped Fatima to connect to community and enjoy her time in Canada. She is also working with a tutor through the One-to-One Adult tutoring program.Dennis believes “the trust factor has helped Mohammed discuss more personal details and given him a better understanding of Canadian life and how to pursue his goals in that context.” For example, Mohammed did not know about taxes. He has a goal to purchase a house but was unaware that owning a house incurs extra taxes. He had to learn that the more income a person earns the more tax the person pays. Additionally, in the 18 months of working together there has been a significant change in Mohammed’s accent. Mohammed has worked hard to improve his accent and to learn Canadian customs. Due to COVID-19 restrictions and isolating Mohammed has had fewer chances to practice English. He is thankful for the opportunity to continue meeting with Dennis at Project Literacy’s Learning Centre. With so many places closed or providing limited seating, the Learning Centre is one of the few places they can meet during COVID-19.  

New Three-Year Strategy Plan

The Board of Directors are pleased to announce the development of our next Three-Year Strategic Plan. The plan is being developed with the support of our Executive Director and a consultant, Avril Paice. The plan will be approved at the January 2021 Board Meeting. It will be used to guide the direction of Project Literacy from 2021 to 2024.  

Story Walk in Celebration of National Child Day

Project Literacy was please to support the Early Years Partnership Story Walk. Children’s stories were placed on large signs in 10 Kelowna Parks to help celebrate November 20th,
National Child Day!


Immigrants Parents as Literacy Supporters Program (IPALS)

Project Literacy is pleased to offer the IPALS Program again this winter. This year the program is being offered to Korean and Chinese immigrant families. IPALS is an eight week program which provides early literacy instruction to young parents, so they can teach early literacy skills to their children before they begin kindergarten. IPALS is funded through our Provincial Partner, Decoda Literacy Solutions and is made possible through our partnership with KCR Community Resources and the Okanagan Family Hub.

2020 Team Spelling Bee Champions!

Congratulations to the winning team, ‘Agraphia-ites’ from the Provincial Court of BC. The team was headed by our very own Board Member Jane Cartwright. Our Second Annual Team Spelling Bee was held on Thursday, September 24. We look forward to seeing new and returning teams at the Spelling Bee next year!

Project Literacy Learners Pass Difficult Exam! The Canadian English Language Proficiency Index (CELPIP) is a general English language proficiency exam. CELPIP allows test takers to demonstrate their ability to function well in English. The test assesses English language abilities in a variety of everyday situations, such as communicating with co-workers and managers in the workplace, interacting with friends, understanding newscasts, and interpreting and responding to written materials. The CELPIP exam is very challenging. At Project Literacy our tutors work closely with their learners to prepare them for the test.A big congratulations to Sajjad, Sergei, Andrea and Lucky who worked hard and recently passed their CELPIP test!


Project Literacy Staff (from left to right; Kate, Elaine, Paul, Katia) wish you a warm holiday season filled with love, peace and joy.

The Learning Centre will be closed for the Holidays on Thursday, December 24. We will reopen on Monday, January 4th.  The Board of Directors and all the staff wish you a wonderful Holiday Season!  
Project Literacy is very grateful for the support of our community partners.

Fall 2020 Newsletter

Learning Moves in Autumn

I remember the excitement of starting back to university in the fall. For good or bad, summer was over. The work, the romance, the adventure, the long nights, and warm mornings were pulling in on themselves, slowly rolling into memory like a warm hoodie tucked under new books and a squished lunch at the bottom of my pack. Ahead were all the new courses I’d registered for, and behind them, my dream of an English degree and perhaps the start of a career as a writer or copy editor for some nouveau advertising firm. Fall was always a time of moving forward. Back then I never stopped to wonder what would happen if my feet couldn’t race with my mind; if the excitement of learning wasn’t matched by the rush of running across campus to make the next class. Or the lurch and slippery dash along a tiled floor to line up with a professor for coffee. Or the simple thrill of being squeezed in last before the bus driver closed the door and steered the bus away from campus. Going to college or university online, will eventually be a memory for today’s students.  I hope their virtual learning still allows them to find new ways to race across the grass, run up stairs, bump into people and catch the rush of life between classes.

Paul Zuurbier,
Executive Director  

September is Raise-a-Reader and Literacy Month

Every year in September, Project Literacy, and the Daily Courier team up to for the annual Raise-a-Reader Campaign. Raise-a-Reader is sponsored by Post Media. All funds donated during September are topped up by the Provincial Government. This year, Project Literacy is encouraging donors to donate online, or attend one of our fundraising events. The Virtual Team Trivia fundraiser is taking place on Tuesday, September 22. Teams of two to six can participate in this fun event. To register go here. Our Second Annual Team Spelling Bee is taking place on Thursday, September 24. Registration is open until September 18. For more information, go to Project Literacy.

Community Care Garden

The first summer of the Community Care Garden will wrap up at the end of September. The Garden Boxes have been a huge success and have enabled Project Literacy and our partner, KCR Community Resources, to provide fresh vegetables to over 50 families since vegetables started growing in May. A huge thank you to the following volunteers for helping to support the garden over the past five months: Gerry Hewitt, Meg Hinton, Oksana Sadkina, Heather Muir, Judith Gunderson, Bev Mallett, Alida Oenema and Lucky Zhang.

A Big Welcome to our Newest Board Member!

The Board and Staff of Project Literacy are pleased to welcome Charlene Covington as our newest Board Member. Charlene joined the Board in August.  

Welcome Kate De Kruif!

We are pleased to welcome Kate De Kruif as our new Office Administrator. Kate is taking over for Sarah who left in July to start her career as an Occupational Therapist. Kate has a degree in Business Administration from Okanagan College and is a mother of four teenage boys.  

Welcome Back Katia!

We’re thrilled to be welcoming Katia back after her one-year maternity leave. Katia gave birth to her son Marcus just over a year ago and will be starting back with us on Monday, September 21. Please feel free to drop by anytime between Monday and Friday to say hi.

Learning Centre Open Wednesday Evenings! 

We are extending our hours on Wednesday nights until 7pm. Wednesday is the only evening the Learning Centre is open for Tutors and Learners to meet, or for new learners to come in and meet with one of our Literacy Coordinators. We’ll be staying open Wednesday nights starting Wednesday, September 30th.

Adult Team Spelling Bee, Thursday, September 24


The Second Annual Adult Team Spelling Bee is taking place Thursday, September 24 at the Coast Capri Hotel.  We currently have seven teams of four registered to compete. If you know of anyone who would like to join in the fun and help raise money for children’s literacy, please have them contact Kate at 250-762-2163 or k[email protected] The Team Spelling Bee is part of our Raise-a-Reader campaign, which runs until the end of September. All funds raised from Raise-a-Reader to be topped up by the Provincial Government.

A big thank you to Kelowna’s 100 Women Who Care for supporting Project Literacy with their group donation for August! Their donations came at the start of our Raise-a-Reader campaign and will be used to help support literacy programs for adults and children in the Central Okanagan.  

Project Literacy is grateful for the ongoing support of our Community Partners