What a great way to procrastinate…write a blog. There are a ton of things I should be doing but as every toddler has said once in his/her life, “I don’t wanna do that.”

We are one day away from a starting a new tradition here at Literacy Nipissing. For years, we have hosted a banquet for learners. This banquet was the opportunity for us to treat our learners and volunteers to a special night to highlight their accomplishments. It was always a great time to invite the community and then brag about our students. But in the last few years, we noticed that only a handful of learners and volunteers were attending. The banquet was nice but we wanted to have more attend so that we could celebrate their accomplishments. So this year, we decided to have a celebration lunch for just learners and volunteers. We want to heap pride, encouragement and just down right amazement on our learners. We don’t want any distractions. We want to celebrate the long journey many of our learners have decided to take.

I don’t know how many times a week I have put my hand over my heart because a learner has amazed me at what they have accomplished. It might not always be about the Pythagorean Theorem but sometimes it is. It could be that a learner realized that the lies they have been hearing about themselves really are lies. Someone in their past told them they were dumb and could never learn. Then we hear, “I’m not dumb, right?? I can do this.” Oh my heart.

We want to celebrate big and small accomplishments. Here is list of some of accomplishments we have heard this year.
1. “I want to learn to write not just print.” And she did.
2. “Guess what Maureen, I passed the GED.” Heard 7 times in 2017 – so far!!
3. “I did my homework.” Heard not as often as we would like, but the number is getting better.
4. “Did you realize that it is really hard to get a good job without an education?”
5. “After all these years, I find got it. I can do long division without a calculator.”
6. “If it wasn’t for my tutor, I wouldn’t have learned that.”
7. “I voted for the first time in the last election.”
8. “Guess what, I got into culinary arts at the college.”
9. “Maybe I should learn to budget. That might help.”
10. “I have an apprenticeship lined up if I can get my GED. Can you help?”
There are many more milestones that have been reached and we celebrate them all.

We are so thankful for our volunteers who help tutor, answer phones, become board members and sell books at Christmas. When I think of the number of hours that we receive from volunteers, they would total 10 more full time jobs. Volunteers really are the heart of this place and we celebrate their selflessness.

We celebrate the new chapter in the lives of our hard working students. It is a lot easier getting up in the morning to come here when we know that we are part of something that is life changing. We are very proud of the courage that our learners show each and every day.

By the way, I started this blog last week and procrastinated long enough that our celebration day is now over. What a great time we had celebrating!!!

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