Our learners work for many local companies!
|Costco Wholesale||Northwood Retirement Resort|
|Custom Granite Works Inc.||NuFactor – Healthcare Professionals|
|Grant Thornton LLP||Original Joe’s|
|Impark||Peter’s Your Independent Grocer Kelowna|
|Jammery||Rocky Mountain Chocolate|
|Kal Tire||Safeway Canada|
|Kelowna General Hospital||Save-On-Foods|
|Kelowna International Airport||Shoppers Drug Mart|
|La Bussola Restaurant||University of British Columbia, Okanagan|
35 years of successful Learner & Tutor matches!
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.
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.
Support from Project Literacy Changes Lives!
Hello. My name is Fery, and my husband’s name is Bahram. We have two children, a son named Borhan, and a daughter named Dorsa.
Before immigrating to Canada, we lived in Iran. Iran is an Islamic republic under a dictatorship that was prejudiced against non-Muslims. We believe in Bahai faith, so we did not have the freedom or rights of a citizen in Iran, despite our natural citizenship. The Iranian government persecuted Bahai’s, killing and arresting members for decades. I was not allowed to study at a university and my husband was fired from every job. With my husband having to travel to find a job and knowing that my children would have to face the same difficulties, we decided to flee the country. In the year 2000, we decided to try to move our family to Canada.
We stayed in Turkey for one year while waiting for a Canadian visa. I knew a bit English, but no one else in my family spoke any English. In the summer of 2002, we came to Kelowna. We felt hopeless faced with the difficulties of learning a new language. We were worried about finding a job with our poor English. I began taking classes at Okanagan College and my husband started being tutored at Project Literacy. Elaine was his tutor. We were very lucky to have her. She was an amazing teacher and helped Bahram learn English and supported him in getting his first job. She was even making phone calls for appointments we needed. Whenever we needed support, Project Literacy, and especially Elaine, was there for us.
With the help of Project Literacy, we were able to get jobs, a house, and our Canadian citizenship (Elaine even came to the ceremony!). Since then, my husband has opened his own business; a small barbershop downtown that he runs alongside our son. I have worked in the dietary department in a nursing home for years. Recently, I decided to become a health care worker. After 10 years, I again turned to Project Literacy for help. I needed help with improving my writing to get into the course, which I completed successfully. I love my job as a care aid. My daughter is now a young woman studying law at University of Victoria. We are very thankful to live in a society that is willing to help and support those who are not even citizens through community organizations such as Project Literacy.
TRUST BUILDS STRONG TUTOR AND LEARNER RELATIONSHIPS
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.
A common thread
Dohmey and her son are from Sudan, a country in North Africa. Until arriving in Canada a few years ago, Domhey had never attended school and was unable to read or write in English. Communicating with and understanding others was difficult.
Domhey began her journey of learning English at the LINC program put on by the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society. When the LINC program closed for the summer, she came to Project Literacy. At Project Literacy, Domhey 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. Domhey is determined to learn English to become more confident in everyday life here in Canada. “It is important to me to be able to communicate when buying my groceries or going to the doctor.” Domhey wants to understand when people are speaking to her.
When Domhey comes to Project Literacy she is greeted by the friendly staff who take the time to talk with her. Working with her tutor, Sana, she feels more confident.
When Domhey first started, she would answer in single words. She is now trying to form sentences. Domhey and Sana can communicate in Arabic when necessary helping to strengthen their tutor/learner relationship. The common language has given Domhey the comfort of knowing she can make mistakes and not get laughed at or judged. Domhey knows she can ask Sana about anything and that Sana will take as much time as necessary to make sure she understands.
Domhey’s hard work has given her the literacy skills to be able to understand and communicate with others in the community. Sana says “It is amazing how far Domhey has come in the few short months we have been working together. The more time I spend with her the more she continues to inspire me.”
Community Partners for the One-to-One Adult Tutoring Program:
Literacy support improves lives
Two years ago, Adam was homeless. He had spent the last 20 years as an alcoholic, going from minimum wage job to job with only a Grade 10 level education.
As he began to get help with his addiction, councillors at Freedom’s Door pointed him to Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society. As a child, Adam did well in school and 20 years later, he had a goal to finish high school and begin college. Adam felt respected by the staff at Project Literacy, describing his first time walking in as “warm, welcoming and uplifting.” Project Literacy’s educators helped Adam to set a goal – to take his LPI and get accepted into the Electronics Engineering program at Okanagan College.
“Part of my journey was rediscovering my born talent – a gift for working with electronics”
He came to Project Literacy on a regular basis, completing practice essays and comprehension tests. One of the most memorable moments of his literacy journey was writing an impressive essay off the top of his head. He says that he’ll never forget the educators “running to the other offices and showing it off to people.” Having his talents and abilities celebrated was a new experience for him.
Adam was able to complete his LPI with a fantastic level 5 score. He has been accepted to Okanagan College and will be starting the Electronics Engineering program in the fall. Adam says that Project Literacy made him feel like “the sky’s the limit” and through that encouragement and support, he’s been able to reach his goals and begin a new chapter in his life.
A free literacy based program is necessary for individuals to build their confidence
When Zhenya moved to Canada two years ago, she spoke only Russian. She was intimidated by going into public where people might ask her questions in English. Zhenya’s low English literacy left her to spend most of her days alone in her apartment, feeling isolated and alone.
Zhenya had a goal to pursue her Permanent Residency and to increase her confidence in speaking English. When she first visited Project Literacy, her husband spoke on her behalf. Through working with her tutor, Bev, she made progress on her English skills, influencing her confidence in day to day life.
Zhenya is especially grateful to Project Literacy because she found it difficult to find any other services in Kelowna that would help her to improve her skills.
“I hadn’t studied English anywhere and only Project Literacy agreed to help me”
Her tutor, Bev, acknowledges that when they first started working together, “Zhenya really had trouble expressing herself.” Coming to Project Literacy gave her a place to be immersed in the language as her friends all spoke Russian and she had previously “had no opportunities to practice English.”
Zhenya is now looking for work in a clothing store and regularly volunteers with Project Literacy. Bev feels that “it’s been a positive few months for her,” with great achievements and many new goals that she is determined to reach.
reading to her sons a new skill for mom
Brandy Twist and her two young sons settle down on the couch and she starts to read Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham.
Nothing unusual there. After all, the book is a children’s rhyming classic.
But Twist, 29, was never a good reader. In fact, she had never read a full book until recently.
“I finished Grade 10 but got married young and had two kids, and reading just wasn’t something I did,” said Twist.
“I’m from Missouri but moved to Kelowna as a single mom, so I need to finish high school to get a good job and inspire the boys to love reading too.”
Her sons, Michael, 7, and Hunter, 4, are totally on board.
“Both of them love to be read to and Michael loves to read too,” she said. “I help him every night with his homework, and we do online stuff where a book is read to you and then you read it yourself and then do a quiz to check you comprehend.”
Twist has arrived at this point with the of Project Literacy Central Okanagan Society. She works three days a week at a horse barn and receives One-to-One tutoring at Project Literacy two days a week. And she reads every day, setting a good example for her boys.
“I’d say I’m getting to be a moderate reader, now — about Grade 7 level. I have trouble with difficult words but I’m learning every day.”
Twist is also taking Grade 11 courses in her quest to get a high-school diploma.
“Brandy really is making a wonderful transformation,” said Project Literacy Education Coordinator, Bonnie Girouard, “she’s finding joy in reading and she’s sharing that with her kids.”
Project Literacy primarily helps adults learn to read and improve literacy and numeracy skills so they can get a high-school diploma, find a job, upgrade their current job or simply feel more confident.
“The key is regular practice, making time for reading and enjoying it,” said Girouard, “if people find reading a chore, they will let it slip.”
Twist’s story is poignant, especially with Family Literacy Day coming up on Tuesday.
ABCLifeLiteracy.ca started in 1999 to promote reading and writing for the whole family. The premise of the campaign is to let people know that just 15 minutes a day is a great start to boosting literacy.
Some of the exercises suggested include:
- a wake-up story, instead of or in addition to a bedtime story
- searching online together to play family outings
- telling knock-knock jokes while doing chores
- writing a story with family members each writing sentences
- writing reviews of books read and
- copying recipes
Prospera Credit Union, which has branches in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton, is supporting Family Literacy Day and also promoting its own HumanomicsCU.ca website, which has activities families can do together to build their financial literacy.
project literacy fills gap
The modern economy requires more of a job-seeker than having a few skills and knowing how to fill in an application.
Most vocations demand college or technical training. To enrol for a program — especially a popular one, such as information technology — you need to pass an entrance test. Some students have to brush up on their math and language abilities to get the “pass” they need.
More are turning to Project Literacy for extra help. The Society provides free tutoring support for adults who want to improve their writing and math skills so they’re better qualified fo the jobs they want.
“All computer-related programs do really well, and graduates are in high demand. But there’s always been a bit of a barrier if you can’t pass the entrance exams or you don’t meet their requirements to get into college. So we’ve been doing more and more of that,” said Executive Director, Diana Groffen.
Simon Guillot found out he needed a tutor. Born and raised in Quebec City, he worked as a computer tech in Quebec until he moved to B.C., five years ago. He landed jobs in construction, landscaping and retail. But when he decided to get back into the computer industry, he realized he had to update his skills at Okanagan College.
“All my computer science courses I had, they are worth nothing,” he said.
Guillot, 39, applied for a two-year program called Network Telecommunication Engineering, which qualifies him to work as a Computer Tech all over Canada. He was unable to get much one-on-one help at the college, so last November he turned to Project Literacy.
He met once a week with tutors, Bonnie Girouard and Bev Mallett — both former teachers, to help him with English so he could write his language proficiency test. Kevin Wood, whose background is IT, worked with Simon on his math, twice a week.
“Part of what we’re trying to do is give people that little step up that they need. Simon came here with all the ability and motivation because he’d done this stuff before. He just needed a little brushing up on things he hadn’t done like fundamental math,” Wood said.
Among other concepts, they focused on exponents — the powers of various numbers — and reviewed how to multiply and divide them. The tutoring got Guillot to finish the line. He passed his entrance exam and started his two-year diploma program this month.
“Project Literacy brought me the extra help I needed,” he said, “I’m really grateful…here was one resource to help me with my math and my English, at the same time.”
“At the college it’s like a big factory. Here, they help you and it’s like if you have more questions, they are just there.”
More than 120 tutors volunteer to help people like Guillot. Project Literacy worked with over 450 learners last year. Four in five of them approach Project Literacy to find a job.
“The province keeps saying ‘we have all these jobs we can’t fill because people aren’t suitably skilled,’” says Groffen, “We’re filling that gap.”