OCALS celebrates a busy year running literacy program in Orleans County

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 11 September 2019 at 1:58 pm

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Patty Gawne, center, a teacher’s assistant at Lyndonville Central School, accepted a certificate of appreciation from OCALS’s president Nicole Goodrich, left, and secretary Pam Schuner at their annual banquet Tuesday night.

Austin Furness, a 10th-grade student at Albion Central School, gives his tutor Barb LaBelle of Medina a hug after being recognized as Student of the Year at OCALS’ annual banquet Tuesday night at Millville United Methodist Church.

Orleans County Adult Learning Services reported a very good year at their annual dinner meeting Tuesday at Millville United Methodist Church.

President Nicole Goodrich opened the meeting with a welcome and introduction of guests.

Treasurer Don Colquhoun reported the organization is holding to its budget very closely. Last year’s net income of $7,800 is very high for OCALS, he said, partly because the agency did not spend as much on staff salaries. He reported their allocation from United Way had been cut from $15,500 to $15,000. Other income included grants from the Lyndonville Area Foundation and two other United Ways outside Orleans County.

The following slate of officers was voted in for 2019-20: President, Nicole Goodrich; vice president, Don Colquhoun; secretary, Pam Schuner; treasurer, Don Colquhoun; and board members, Don Colquhoun and Mary Lee Knights.

Goodrich said OCALS was able to offer tutoring programs in Lyndonville’s After School program, Medina’s Reading program, Albion kindergarteners, Agri-Business Child Development centers in Holley and Newfane.

Barb Dunham, in charge of Community-Based Family Literacy, reported they served 18 students, with 38 tutors who contributed 6,171 hours. They had two tutors in Lyndonville’s reading program last year, and will have four this year. There were two at Job Corps last year, and they will have three this year.

Cindy Blosenhauer, in charge of School-Based Family Literacy, said they had two tutors at ABCD in Newfane and two at ABCD in Holley. She said she did more work in Lyndonville, including a recruitment event, to let people know about OCALS. A Read-a-Thon is currently going on.

Don Colquhoun said they still have no luck getting any business to participate in a workplace literacy program, in spite of offering it free on a trial basis. He said they will continue to market the program until a business is willing to give it a try.

Nicole Goodrich, left, president of OCALS, presented a plaque to Barb LaBelle of Medina as Tutor of the Year at OCALS annual banquet. At right, 11-year-old Hannah, who wants LaBelle to tutor her so she can go to college, gives her idol a hug.

Carolyn Wagner said her Personnel Committee has put together and employee handbook, which was approved by the board. They are doing formal job descriptions for both paid personnel and volunteer positions.

Certificates of Appreciation were presented to Hoag Library, Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, United Way of Orleans County, Lyndonville Foundation, Albion Central School District, Lyndonville Central School District, Medina Central School District, Millville United Methodist Church, Virginia Kropf, Farmworkers’ Coalition and Iroquois Job Corps.

Austin Furness, a 10th grade student at Albion Central School, was named Student of the Year.

His tutor, Barb LaBelle of Medina, was named Tutor of Year for her efforts.

“I was told they were looking for a tutor for Austin, a special needs student who could not put a math problem on paper and work it out,” LaBelle said. “Now he can actually put a problem on paper, solve it and check it on his computer. He passed his math test to be promoted to 11th grade. He’s a kid who shows up every week with a grin on his face.”

LaBelle added she just took him for a job interview and he got hired.

For her efforts, LaBelle was named “Tutor of the Year.”

“She has done an amazing job,” Goodrich said.

LaBelle was also assigned to tutor a family of seven from Syria.

“I’ve had my hands full, but I’ve had a whale of a time,” she said. “I’m in seventh heaven doing what I do.”

She has also taken a neighboring home-schooled child under her wing. Hannah, 11, wants to go to college to be a vet and has asked LaBelle to tutor her so she can go to college.

LaBelle has gone one step further. She has started a college fund for Hannah.

Final recognition of the evening was to Kevin and Terry Novak and Shane and Donna Seyler as key contributors. The women are daughters of OCALS’ founders Don and Rose Ruck of Byron, formerly of Albion.

Adrienne Daniels, a tutor with OCALS, accepts a certificate of appreciation on behalf of Albion Central School from OCALS’ president Nicole Goodrich, left, and secretary Pam Schuner.

Kevin Doherty, right, accepts a certificate of appreciation for Hoag Library from OCALS president Nicole Goodrich and secretary Pam Schuner at OCALS annual meeting. Doherty is president of Hoag Library’s Board of Trustees.

Provided photo: Nicole Goodrich, left, president of OCALS, presented a certificate of appreciation to Ginny Kropf with Orleans Hub, for her continued support of OCALS. Kropf also accepted a certificate of appreciation for United Way of Orleans County, which provides funding to OCALS.

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