Literacy council gets $12,500 contribution, bringing in-person back derby fundraiser

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2022

SALISBURY — Rowan County Literacy Council got some major support this month and is looking ahead to bringing back its signature fundraiser party for the first time in two years.

Council Executive Director Laurel Harry said the nonprofit has been awarded $12,500 from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation to support its program.

Harry said the donation will support the council’s adult and youth programs by helping it recruit and train new tutors, buy materials, and fund its data analysis programs.

The organization is almost entirely volunteer, with only three paid staff members.

“We have a very, what we like to call, small-but-mighty organization,” Harry said. “Everyone on staff does some tutoring, but the bulk of our tutoring is done by volunteers.”

Harry said the foundation has provided support for the council for several years now.

Harry said the past two years, like for many organizations, have been challenging. She said it has been more difficult to retain tutors or retain the same level of service from them during the pandemic. Some tutors are older, retired people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 and Harry said some people cut back the amount they were tutoring or moved to video tutoring only.

“It’s definitely been a challenge for us in terms of the number of hours and the number of volunteers, but it’s also just an ongoing process because we have a constant need for tutors,” she said.

There are more than 15 adults on the nonprofit’s waiting list right now. Harry said tutors typically only work with one or two students at a time, with a few exceptions of very active volunteers.

When the pandemic began, the council saw decreased demand for tutoring, but demand eventually built back up and now the organization is seeing more people than ever trying to get the council’s services.

The council serves people of all backgrounds who are trying to improve their English literacy and has served students from around the world.

Harry said the organization is also bringing back its signature “Hat-I-Tude” fundraiser.

Harry said the fundraiser has taken the form of an online hat show for the past two years, but it is returning as an in-person fundraiser and Kentucky Derby viewing at New Sarum Brewing Company May 7.

The event will include awards for the best fashion and most creative hats, beer and wine as well as hors d’oeuvres.

“We’re hoping that’s a venue that’s still semi-open so people feel comfortable to come out,” Harry said.

Tickets for the event are available via the council’s website

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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