People walk thru these doors at the North Port Library not speaking a word of English, or reading English . They meet Jan Gallas, she introduces them to her Literacy Volunteer Program and that opens a whole new world for them. the literacy volunteers teach english as a second language.
Jan says, "Our motto is "Literacy Changes Lives". We work with students from Osprey to North Port , and we teach adults to read write and speak English. "
Last year their 171 Tudors served 315 very motivated students from 51 countries.
Jan says, "They came to the United States and they want to be part of the community . They want to learn to speak English, pronounce better, they want to learn grammar, they want to learn all the idioms. We have plenty of those.They just want to better themselves.They want to fit in, they want to be part of the United States."
You don't have to speak a foreign language to be a Tudor, and you don't have to be a teacher. Jan wasn't.
She says, "I worked in a school district 40 years, I worked in public service office helping students, parents and teachers better themselves."
She and her husband worked in the same school district. When they retired, they moved to North Port.
Jan says, "And I turned to my husband and said, "Now what are we going to do?" And being that we had worked in school , we came to the library and found the Literacy Volunteer Program, and worked in it for 8 years. My husband passed away , and I moved back to Albany, New York, and after a few years said to myself ,What am I doing here in this cold snowy weather?"
So she returned to North Port and again volunteered for the Literacy Program.
She says, "It's always been my passion to help people. Help them make themselves better, and I just love working with people ."
and thru the literacy program she's changing lives.
Her students told us, "This program is wonderful. People who work in this organize, they help us to learn our English or start to learn or English."
But more Tudors are desperately needed.
Jan says, "Currently in North Port because of our large population of Russian and Ukrainian people we have a waiting list any time of 50 to 70 people."
Jan is working on a new program to provide some help for them whilte they wait for a permanent Tudor. And her life lesson.
"Don't sit around. Do things for others and it will make you happy. "