Ch@t: CLC offers help with soft skills, literacy and more for adults

Posted 9/27/19

This week, we chat with Vicki Newell, executive director of the Chatham Literacy Council, about the organization’s upcoming literacy luncheon. Newell has worked as the executive director for eight …

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Ch@t: CLC offers help with soft skills, literacy and more for adults

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This week, we chat with Vicki Newell, executive director of the Chatham Literacy Council, about the organization’s upcoming literacy luncheon. Newell has worked as the executive director for eight of her nine years with Chatham Literacy. Before that, she worked in early childhood development with local and statewide Smart Start initiatives. All told, she has 31 years working in the nonprofit world, having started that journey as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Newell hails from the state of Utah and has lived in Chatham County since 2003 with her husband and three sons.

Let’s talk about your literacy luncheon event on Oct. 12. N.C.’s poet laureate, Jaki Shelton Green, is coming. What will she add to this annual event for Chatham Literacy?

Diversity. Ms. Green is the first African American author, the first poet, and the first N.C. Poet Laureate to present at one of Chatham Literacy’s author luncheon fundraisers. As well, Ms. Green is the first African American and the third woman to serve as North Carolina’s ambassador for poetry. We hope that she will draw a diverse audience to generate awareness of our programs and to create connections within the community to further our goal of increased diversity among our adult learners.

What does Chatham Literacy do?

Chatham Literacy provides free tutoring services for adults in the following three areas:

1) Traditional Literacy in which we help adults improve their basic education such as reading, writing, and math; prepare for the GED or high school diploma; enroll in a vocational degree; or ready themselves for training opportunities to advance their employment.

2) Civics and Language Literacy in which we teach English language learners how to speak, read write and understand English; we help prepare adults for the citizenship exam.

3) Life Skills Literacy in which we prepare adults for expectations and norms in today’s workplace by offering workforce soft skills training, computer literacy and financial literacy.

In Chatham County (per 2016 census), 13.1 percent of the population over 25 years old do not have a high school diploma.

Chatham Literacy, as an established, growing organization, provides much needed free and individualized adult literacy services within Chatham County.

Can you talk about the work tutors do?

Tutors teach adult learners in their area of interest based on the above subject areas.

Tutors volunteer once or twice a week for two hours each session, with their adult learners in one of fourteen different locations from Siler City to North Chatham. Free nationally recommended educational materials (text books, workbooks and tests) are used for all classes. These materials include lesson plans.

How can someone become a tutor?

Those interested in tutoring do not need previous experience in tutoring or teaching and they do not have to speak a language other than English. All they need is to value education and a desire to give back to the community. A minimum of two lives will be transformed by this experience.

Tutors must complete the Chatham Literacy tutor application. The Volunteer Coordinator then completes a background check. They must attend a 7-hour training session that focuses on the tutor’s role, responsibilities, adult education methods and cultural sensitivity. Additional support and periodic in-service opportunities are provided.

If somebody is interested in becoming a tutor, they can find a tutor application on our website (www.chathamliteracyorg), under the volunteer tab on the home page or contact our Volunteer Coordinator at 919-930-7284 or

Why is literacy important?

Literacy leads to gainful employment, financial and family stability, improved health care and is beneficial to the community. Tutoring services help adults gain confidence, pride and independence as well as better outcomes for the next generation.


Looking into 2020, what’s ahead for Chatham Literacy?

In looking beyond 2019, we plan to focus on sustaining growth and organizational capacity to serve more clients, provide more diverse services and improve service quality and outcomes.

The 2019 Chatham County Literacy Needs Assessment verifies the need for adult literacy and will guide us into the future, which will require the recruitment of more volunteer tutors. In preparation for the foreseen growth that Chatham County will undergo, Chatham Literacy strives to build an educated workforce so that, as businesses expand or arrive in Chatham County, they will hire locally - strengthening families, our community and Chatham County.

How can people find out more about the event?

Go to or call us at 919-742-0578.

What: Author Jaki Shelton Green will present “Celebrating the Power of Our Stories”

When: Saturday, October 12 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. with lunch at noon

Where: Western Chatham Senior Center, 112 Village Lake Road in Siler City

Tickets: $60 each. Tables seat six people per table.

Tickets available: Online at > events OR by phone at 919-214-1269

Can’t go? Donate a ticket for somebody who otherwise might not be able to attend.

Combined with the luncheon is a raffle

Win one week at a mountain cabin getaway in Lake Luke, NC.

Tickets: $50 each. Only 250 sold.

Winning ticket will be drawn at the luncheon.

You do not need to be present to win.


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