LIFT volunteers are the best! LIFT volunteers come from various backgrounds including highly skilled professionals, community workers, retired teachers, and homemakers. Volunteer teacher Cecilia Gomez from the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program recently spoke with LIFT about her experiences with the SEE program. Cecilia has a long history of volunteering. Some of the highlights of her volunteer history include: serving with Women’s Jail Ministry for 10 years; taking part in promoting cultural awareness as an Adelante Ambassador; and being the Public Relations Chair for Literacy Volunteers of America from 1997 to 1998
What brought you to LIFT?
I became aware of the enormous problem of adult illiteracy while serving as a board member with Literacy Volunteers of America. The work was very rewarding, but I soon came to the conclusion that I would rather be teaching. Unfortunately, because of work scheduling conflicts I could not volunteer with LIFT until I retired in 2015.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering at LIFT?
That would definitely be the students. Most of the students come from backgrounds where they were not given much encouragement as children. They were made to feel inferior even though many had learning disabilities such as dyslexia. Many adults who can’t read believe that they don’t have the capacity to learn, but that is not necessarily the case. If someone is low-literate, it’s often because they haven’t been given the proper teaching method to learn, not because they don’t have the ability to learn.
As the students progress through the LIFT program it is very satisfying to see them gain confidence and self-esteem. So many students have the capacity to be in higher positions in their jobs, but because of their reading deficiency, they are held back from reaching their full potential. When a student successfully completes the LIFT program, they acquire the learning skills necessary to open many previously closed doors. I love to hear about students who have graduated and have gone on to bigger and better things. When the students succeed, I succeed.
Any advice for students?
Don’t give up. The truth is that it is not easy, but it is doable. I write the word “perseverance” for the students to see every day to remind them to not give up. Get up and go! Learning is not something that is unattainable when you put in the work.
What would you say to someone considering becoming a volunteer at LIFT?
If you have a genuine desire to make a difference in someone’s life I would highly recommend volunteering at LIFT. Words cannot describe the feeling you get when a student makes a breakthrough and “gets it.” Volunteering at LIFT will not only change a student’s future, it will also deeply enrich your life.