By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO December 24, 2004 The Literacy Volunteers of Americas Sullivan County chapter has a new executive director.
His goal: to give the hard-working group the attention and resources they need to educate the many illiterate adults of the county. The group estimates that one in four adults in the county is functionally illiterate.
Shaun Smith will replace Kara Meckle, who accepted a position with the Sullivan County Academic Support for Kids (A.S.K.) Program.
A 1998 graduate of Monticello High School, Smith recently earned his masters in Public Administration from SUNY Binghamton.
Smith worked for two years with the State University of New York Division of Research and with several non-profit organizations in the Binghamton area, where he consulted in marketing, public relations and strategic planning.
Among his varied experiences at Binghamton, Smith spent time applying for grants, copy editing and writing press releases. He even helped create a performance budget for Schuyler County.
Now hes bringing those skills to his home county.
I am very excited to have this opportunity to work with such dedicated volunteers and adults who want to learn to read and better their lives through improved literacy, he said. This organizations work is vital to the social and economic health of our community.
In just his first week on the job, Smith has already created and designed the groups new Web site, literacysullivan.org.
Smith said he is spending a considerable portion of his time writing and researching grants for LVA. The organization is planning a move to 467 Broadway, adjacent to Monticello Travel, from its current location at the corner of Lakewood and Bedford avenues, attached to the United Way building. Smith said the group hopes to move in by February or March.
Members of the organization want the new address to give them the awareness and visibility they need in the community in order to reach the plethora of area residents whose first language is not English or who simply never learned how to read and write.
The new space will also allow the organization to put its 12 computers to use. Currently, only three can be accessed at a time.
The LVAs famous Read It Again Bookstore should also see more business as a result of the transition. The only bookstore in the Town of Thompson, it houses thousands of donated books for sale.
The move will cost LVA a considerable amount of money, including higher rent. Therefore, the group continues to actively seek donations. Those wishing to assist can easily do so online at the aforementioned Web site or can send a check made out to the Literacy Volunteers of Sullivan County, 33 Lakewood Avenue, Monticello, NY 12701.
Smith said there is currently a waiting list for those wishing to be educated. He said the group is looking for more tutors to volunteer their time and effort. There are 39 right now.
Smith also plans to hold special events and envisions LVA becoming more active in local community events. He would like to expand the groups facilities throughout the county.
The Literacy Volunteers Sullivan County chapter was founded by Connie Keller in 1994, who also serves as board president.