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Drake celebrates International Literacy Day, community efforts

September 8, 2010
News PhotoThe Drake University School of Education will partner with community literacy advocates to celebrate International Literacy Day on Wednesday, Sept. 8.

Free and open to the public, the event will be held from 5:15 to 7:45 p.m. at the Des Moines Central Library, 1000 Grand Ave.

This will mark the second annual "Celebrating Community Literacy" event, which is sponsored by the Drake Adult Literacy Center (DUALC) and highlights local and statewide volunteer organizations that promote literacy.

"The goal of the event is to raise awareness about the role that literacy plays in our community's vitality," said Anne Murr, coordinator for DUALC. "It's also an opportunity to connect groups and individuals that focus on literacy."

The event, also sponsored by the Des Moines Public Library, will feature a "Literacy Across the Lifetime Panel." The panel will discuss the steps being taken to address literacy concerns related to different age groups.

Murr will serve on the panel with other community members, including:

*    Elisabeth Buck, agency director for Iowa Workforce Development

*    Angela Connolly, chair of the Polk County Board of Supervisors

*    Mike Hutchinson, district manager at Dollar General

*    Molly Olinger Topf, program director of Reach Out and Read

*    Georgia Sheriff, director of Drake Head Start

*    Tyler Weig, executive director of Everybody Wins! Iowa

*    Laura Walth, librarian for the Des Moines Public Library

*    Archie Willard, literacy recruiter for Adult Basic Education at Iowa Central Community College

At the celebration, Willard will be honored with a 2010 National Coalition for Literacy (NCL) Leadership Award, which recognizes individuals and organizations that have made extraordinary contributions to improving literacy in the United States.

A dyslexic who learned to read at the age of 54, Willard, of Eagle Grove, Iowa, is now a national literacy advocate who recruits volunteer tutors and encourages adults with reading problems to get involved in education programs. Read more about his story online: http://www.readiowa.org/archiew.html.

Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a longtime activist for individuals with disabilities, will also receive an NCL Literacy Leadership Award. Willard and Harkin are two of five 2010 recipients of the national award.

Pre-registration is recommended. Call 515-283-4957, or visit www.dmpl.org.

Prospective adult literacy tutors needed for volunteer opportunity

The Drake University Adult Literacy Center is also recruiting volunteer tutors in a two-day orientation event.

Training sessions will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 17, and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 18.

"Volunteers work one-on-one for one or two hours a week with adults who want to be better readers," Murr said. "Tutoring is a very personal form of volunteering in which you can see the direct benefits of your efforts. You also learn about diversity of a different kind and gain greater appreciation for a gift that we take for granted -- the ability to read."

Interested individuals should contact Murr at 515-271-3982 or anne.murr@drake.edu.