Archive for January, 2013

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Since 1994, Congress designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a national day of service.   As part of our year of serving in AmeriCorps, Carrie and I just participated in the national day of service this year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While others enjoyed the day off or watched the inauguration, we met at 9:00 AM at the Shoppers Grocery Store in Herndon, Virginia to volunteer with Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: Feeding Fairfax Families for Reston Interfaith.  Reston Interfaith’s mission is to help people build more stable lives by connecting them to vital resources that solve their needs for housing, childcare, food or financial assistance.   After the holidays, many food pantries in Fairfax County drop to their lowest points.  Throughout Fairfax County in January and February, there are food drives to collect food for area non-profits and food pantries, and Fastran provides the buses to collect donations.   To restock Reston Interfaith’s emergency food pantry, Reston Interfaith and Fastran hold a yearly Stuff the Bus event at the Shopper’s Grocery Store in Herndon to collect donations. Here is more information about Fairfax County’s Stuff the Bus: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news/2013/stuff-the-bus-2013.htm

From 9:00 AM-4:00 PM on Monday, Carrie and I along with two AmeriCorps members from BEACON Literacy handed out fliers about the Food Drive to shoppers as they entered the grocery store.  The fliers had a list of items that shoppers could buy and then donate to Reston Interfaith as they left the store.  There were also $5 bags already filled with needed items that shoppers could purchase at the checkout lines, or they could give monetary donations.  We spent the day handing out fliers and helping to collect donations that were loaded on the bus.

Though our feet were tired after seven hours of standing, we truly enjoyed our experience.  First, we were quite surprised by the unexpected generosity of people for buying items while doing their personal shopping, buying the $5 bags if they were in a rush, or giving money on their way out.  There was one couple that even bought a cart full of items to donate!   Also, we met people who use Reston Interfaith’s Emergency Food Pantry, met people who wanted information on services of Reston Interfaith for their own families, and met people who could barely afford to take care of their own families.  One lesson we took away from this experience is to always take time to listen to others giving out information, as sometimes, it is to help people in need.  At the end of the day, Carrie and I both bought a bag to help support Reston Interfaith’s food drive.

Overall, our day of service was a reminder of how generous people can be, and a reminder of being humble and appreciating what we have.

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Member 12-13


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During the first two Saturdays of the New Year, the Adult Literacy Program staff was hard at work training 17 volunteers for the upcoming Winter 2013 session! The Leesburg Town Hall Building was gracious enough to allow the ALP staff to use their space for the training event.  It was the first time that both AmeriCorps members were able to teach their potential volunteers the ins-and-outs of classroom instruction and the challenges and rewards of teaching adult ESOL learners. While Susan focused primarily on cultural diversity and the structure of a lesson and Carrie focused on realia and curriculum and text, they were able to co-teach the importance of chart levels, lesson planning, and adult learning and learning styles.

One of the highlights of the two-day training session occurred when the volunteers were able to create a lesson plan in groups of three or four.  They were able to take what they had learned and use it to brainstorm a lesson that could be utilized in an ESOL classroom. Each group was given a lesson in one of the units in the All-Star curriculum text. The goal was to have the volunteers understand how lessons are purposefully built up from a more general lesson to a more complex lesson.  This was also a great time for volunteers to use realia, dialogue, and incorporate games within their lessons. It was great to hear each group present their lesson plans and share their great ideas!

It was awesome to see so many potential volunteers come out to learn more about Loudoun Literacy Council and the services we provide and to learn more about the adult ESOL community in Loudoun County.  The Adult Literacy Program staff is thrilled to announce that the majority of our potential volunteers have signed up to assist in the classroom, become a tutor, and/or help out at our registration events!

The ALP staff would like to congratulate the following individuals for successfully completing the Winter 2013 Teacher/Tutor Training:


















Written By:

Carrie Robinson

AmeriCorps Member 2012-2013

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Tables turned Saturday when one of our own students taught our potential volunteers what it felt like to be in a classroom learning a language that is foreign to you. Kholoud prepared a fantastic lesson taught solely in the Arabic language as part of our immersion experience this past Saturday for our volunteer training session.  Looks of confusion and awe were on the faces of our volunteers as Kholoud presented them with the alphabet, numbers, and simple words in Arabic.

As a native of Jordan, Kholoud has lived in the United States for less than ten years and has tutored with our fantastic tutor and teacher, Barbara. Beginning their sessions over a year ago, Kholoud and Barbara have made tremendous progress together, working primarily on reading and writing English.

As a teacher, Kholoud was a natural in front of the room teaching our future tutors and teachers. She used flashcards as part of her presentation, saying, “I use these cards with my son to help teach him Arabic.” At the end of her lesson, Kholoud received a rousing round of applause and a chorus of thank yous. It was great to see one of our own students become involved in the different aspects of our Adult Literacy Program.  We are so grateful for Kholoud in taking time out of her busy schedule to be a part of our training session and for opening our volunteers’ eyes and teaching them a much valued lesson.

Carrie Robinson

Susan Pilley

AmeriCorps Members 2012-2013

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