Volunteers of the Month
Meet Geoff Barrow, our May 2022 Volunteer of the Month!
Geoff is married, retired, and a proud grandparent. He feels he is pretty much living the dream.
Geoff has been tutoring with Project Literacy for almost eight years! Having never taught or tutored before, this was a new experience for him and he’s never looked back. He has always enjoyed reading and wanted to extend this skill and passion to others. Upon his retirement, he found he had more time at his disposal and chose to join Project Literacy to do just that.
Most of the Learners he has tutored, over the years, have been recent immigrants to Canada. From them, he has learned a great deal about their countries of origin and the cultures from which they come. Through them, he is reminded of how fortunate we are to live in Canada. By them, and their dedication, he is constantly inspired. Being able to share their successes is just a bonus for Geoff.
In his spare time, Geoff enjoys hiking, kayaking, and cross-country skiing. His grandchildren are the greatest pleasures of he and his wife’s lives.
Geoff is a dedicated and generous Tutor, here, at Project Literacy and we humbly award him the title of May Volunteer of the Month!
Meet Blaine Rose, our April 2022 Volunteer of the Month!
Blaine grew up on a farm in southwestern Manitoba and as a young lad, enjoyed the cattle and especially the playful newborn calves. Eventually Blaine moved to Alberta and worked as an elementary school teacher in Northern Alberta, teaching indigenous students for 2 years prior to teaching in Calgary. When he retired from teaching, he worked as a ‘Work Experience Advisor’ at a private college, in Calgary, before settling in Kelowna.
Before tutoring with Project Literacy, Blaine had experience working as a private tutor with elementary school students. Once he was retired he wanted to find meaningful ways to spend his time and approached Project Literacy to begin volunteering. A couple of years later he also began volunteering as an ambassador at Kelowna’s airport. Blaine has now been volunteering with Project Literacy for 12 years.
Blaine enjoys working with the students one-on-one at Project Literacy and getting to know them. Blaine loves that Project Literacy is a warm , welcoming environment with a caring and committed staff.
These days, Blaine likes to spend time with his family and friends. He loves to read, play golf, volunteer and he’s looking forward to being able to travel again once it is safe to do so!
Blaine is such a positive asset to Project Literacy and we are proud and grateful to him for so many years of support and service. We are honoured to call him our April Volunteer of the Month!
Meet Glenna Turnbull, our March 2022 Volunteer of the Month!
Glenna started volunteering with Project Literacy back in 2011 as a member of the board. She completed a two-year term and enjoyed it very much. She also helped organize and promote the Wine & Words fundraising event with some other amazing board members. It wasn’t until COVID-19 hit and her professional workload lightened substantially that she was able to start volunteering as a tutor in the summer of 2020. She felt very lucky to learn early in life how wonderfully satisfying it is to volunteer. While serving on Project Literacy’s board, Glenna glimpsed the impact that tutoring could have on people’s lives, so once her schedule and solo parenting duties made it possible, she put in her application to tutor.
What she loves most about tutoring is the amazing opportunity it gives her to meet and work with people who are eager to learn. Without fail, every session with every Learner has some instance where they find themselves laughing and Glenna says she has learned so much from the people she tutors. “It’s incredibly satisfying!”
When not tutoring at Project Literacy, Glenna is an avid skier, hiker, and commuter cyclist. She loves camping and snowshoeing, as well, and prefers to be outdoors whenever possible. Yoga has been a huge part of her life for more than two decades as it helps both mentally and physically to cope with life’s stresses, as does playing the piano (Royal Conservatory Grade X). Glenna has had several short stories published in literary magazines and currently has two novels that she is seeking representation for. She is also just starting to work on a third.
Glenna raised two sons as a single parent while putting herself through university, taking one or two courses per semester. Her ‘boys’ are now two amazing young men, both of whom she is extremely proud. Glenna has worked as a freelance writer and photographer most of her adult life and work as a stained-glass artist. She now has two dogs – a wise and amazing senior Border Collie named Finnigan and a new addition, a Great Bernadoodle puppy named Oscar. She is a regular volunteer at the Central Okanagan Food Bank as well as at Project Literacy. Glenna also taught piano when she was younger, during her university years. She had the privilege of being a teaching assistant for her Creative Writing professor, John Lent. Other than that, however, she had little experience with teaching and/or tutoring and that made her nervous. She wasn’t entirely sure how to start and hoped she’d learn what to do quickly!
We feel so lucky to have such a committed individual volunteer with us. Glenna’s passion knows no bounds and she always jumps at the chance to help whenever needed. We didn’t hesitate when coming to conclusion of choosing her for our March Volunteer of the Month!
Meet Byron Johnstad, our February 2022 Volunteer of the Month!
If you visited the Project Literacy office over the Christmas holidays, you would have seen some of the lovely decorations, including a beautiful wreath that Byron graciously donated for our Holiday 2021 Season. Byron was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and immigrated to Vancouver in 1967 and attained his Canadian citizenship in 1973. So, immigration is also part of his personal story.
Byron has been tutoring with Project Literacy for approximately 8 years! He holds a Master’s Degree and taught for nearly 27 years in post-secondary institutions in BC. After retiring in 1997, he has worked at keeping his time, mind and skills engaged with post-retirement activities such as teaching, along with display design and teaching Interior Design. Byron sees volunteering is one of the ways that he can give back to his community and being part of Project Literacy allows him to share and utilize his teaching experience and instructional skills.
Through volunteering at Project Literacy, Byron feels tutoring English to new Canadians is a very meaningful way to create real change in our learners lives. Byron says, “acquiring and expanding language and knowledge of Canada gives our learners skills that help them integrate, achieve, prosper”… thus, they become a more comfortable resident in their newly adopted country and with a new language.
On a more personal note, Byron has maintained an aesthetically developed home and garden and enjoys searching for undiscovered and undervalued antiques or collectibles in local thrift shops. Byron acknowledges that at his advanced age of 8o he is required to cut back on some of his more physical activities, however teaching is using the brain muscle and it is easy enough to continue to exercise this way!
Project Literacy would like to thank Byron for his enthusiastic efforts and years with us. We are proud to honour him, with the title of February Volunteer of the Month!