SALISBURY — The Rowan County Literacy Board won major support this month and plans to bring back its fundraising night for the first time in two years.
Council executive director Laurel Harry said the nonprofit received $12,500 from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation to support its program.
Harry said the donation would support the council’s adult and youth programs by helping it recruit and train new tutors, buy equipment and fund its data analysis programs.
The organization is almost entirely voluntary, with only three paid staff members.
“We have a very, what we like to call, small but mighty organization,” Harry said. “All of the staff do some tutoring, but most of our tutoring is done by volunteers.”
Harry said the foundation has been supporting the council for several years now.
Harry said the past two years, as with many organisations, have been difficult. She said it has been harder to retain tutors or maintain the same level of service from them during the pandemic. Some tutors are older and retired people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and Harry said some people have reduced the amount they donate or switched to video-only tutoring.
“It has certainly been a challenge for us in terms of the number of hours and the number of volunteers, but it’s also an ongoing process because we constantly need tutors,” she said.
There are more than 15 adults on the nonprofit’s waiting list at this time. Harry said tutors generally only work with one or two students at a time, with a few exceptions of very active volunteers.
When the pandemic started, the council saw a drop in demand for tutoring, but demand eventually increased and now the organization is seeing more people than ever trying to obtain the services of the council.
The council serves people from all walks of life who are trying to improve their level of English and has served students from all over the world.
Harry said the organization would also bring back its “Hat-I-Tude” fundraiser.
Harry said the fundraiser had taken the form of an online hat show for the past two years, but was returning as an in-person fundraiser and viewing of the Kentucky Derby at the New Sarum Brewing Company on May 7.
The event will include prizes for the best fashion and the most creative hats, beer and wine as well as appetizers.
“We hope it’s still a semi-open venue for people to feel comfortable hanging out,” Harry said.
Tickets for the event are available through the council’s website rcliteracy.org.