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About Us

About Us

Who We Are

Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is dedicated to helping Bangor area adults who want either to work on basic English skills or to learn English as another language. Our student-centered methods reduce barriers and get results.

Since 1969, we have helped change the lives of adults, one at a time. Literacy Volunteers is affiliated with ProLiteracy, the world’s largest non governmental adult literacy organization.

Literacy Volunteers is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our part-time staff orchestrates the efforts of more than 600 students, tutors, and volunteers. We are overseen by a Board of Directors drawn from the community.

Our Mission

Literacy Volunteers of Bangor strengthens our community by providing free English language tutoring to Bangor area adults.

Our Core Values

We affirm the following as guiding principles for everything we do:

  • Literacy is a civil right, the foundation of democracy.
  • There is no substitute for the caring heart of a volunteer.
  • Everyone has the right to access lifelong learning opportunities.
  • Barriers are challenges to be eliminated.
  • We believe in readiness instead of compliance.
  • There is no such thing as an average learner, and there is no such thing as the best way to learn.
  • We seek to change the direction of  students’ lives without judgment, not to change their lives.
  • We  provide opportunities for lifelong learning, not remedial education.
  • Adults expect and deserve individualized, personalized education.
  • Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
  • The adult learning process is a teacher/student partnership and relationship.
  • The process begins by starting where the adult learner is.


Our history includes the busy mother of three preschoolers who couldn’t say no to a nun. The woodsman who signed his name with a X. The immigrant student who became a major supporter. And hundreds more.

For over 50 years, our story has been one of extraordinary people filled with grit and dedication — volunteers, students, and donors. They made us one of the first volunteer literacy programs in the country, and they keep us moving steadily into the future. Click here to read their fascinating stories.

Strategic Plan (2023-2027)

In 2020, Literacy Volunteers began to update its Strategic Plan. Given the pandemic, however, nothing seemed certain. So, we postponed updating the plan until a more settled time.

This plan represents the work of several LVB strategists with research and input from our constituents (e.g., students, volunteers, donors, and partners). We’ve identified five (5) ambitious Strategic Goals with corresponding Outcomes and Actions to work towards over the next four years.

Our external plan is available HERE with a much more detailed document available upon request at

Annual Report Cards

Each year, we compile results of our programming year. We assess how many students we’ve served, what types of goals they have reached, how many volunteers support this mission with their time, and how we’re doing financially.

These Annual Report Cards are quick snapshots that represent our progress and are accessible to the public. Click below to see how we’re doing.

2023 Annual Report

2022 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2011 Annual Report

2021 Annual Report

2020 Annual Report

2019 Annual Report

2018 Annual Report

2015 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

2012 Annual Report

Our Staff

Mary Marin Taylor

Executive Director

“No one ever makes it by themselves. We all get help from others along the way.”

Growing up in a French-speaking community in Northern Maine, Mary learned that her grandfather couldn’t read or speak English, despite selling insurance for MetLife. It was Mary’s mother who taught him to read. At the age of 19, Mary had her first child and was only able to complete her education and rise up from poverty because of mentors and her family’s help.

That understanding of and passion for addressing the problems of low literacy, poverty and cultural diversity brought Mary to Literacy Volunteers in 2003. She has a master’s degree in communication, a Certification in Volunteer Administration, and is a Nationally Certified Poverty Coach.

Favorite read? Historical fiction.

Model superhero? Stretch from The Incredibles, so she can reach and gather everything and everyone.

Heather McCarthy

Program Manager

Heather has worked in the Greater Bangor community for all of her adult life, much of that time at nonprofit organizations.  After working at a local radio station, she joined the team at the Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors’ Bureau, showcasing the area’s many amenities and helping to bring visitors to our region. 
She then served as the Director of the National Folk Festival in Bangor (later the American Folk Festival), and, during that time, relied on hundreds of volunteers who stepped forward to support the annual event.  Through the Festival, she helped to bring hundreds of artists from traditions around the world to a stage in Bangor, where their music and dance was experienced and enjoyed by thousands of Maine residents.
Her greatest satisfaction?  Making connections: whether allowing a Maine resident to experience the music of a new tradition, or introducing two people whose interests and goals align.
Favorite reads?  Science and Science Fiction
Real-life superheroes?  Her father, Jerry McCarthy, who spent his life in service to his community and instilled a love of reading in her. 

Announcing Soon!

Student Service Coordinator

Announcing Soon!

Administrative Coordinator

Board of Directors


Denise Allen
Educator (retired)
Brewer School System

Sally Dobres
Vice President
Human Resources (retired)
University of Maine System

Rachel Grivois
CPA, Self Employed
Accounting Services of Maine

Gianna Marrs
Financial Aid Administrator (retired)
University of Maine

Board Members

Casey Escobar
Patient Rights Advocate
Disability Rights Maine

Brian Folster
Financial Services (retired)

Denise Gallop
Human Resource Manager, Eaton Peabody

Shelby Hartin
Director of Communications
University of Maine

Donna Keirstead
VP Alumni Relations
Rutgers University (retired)

John Lopez Valencia
Product Manager
Bangor Savings Bank

Carolina Rave
Communications Specialist
Versant Power

Janet Speranza-Moran
Business Owner
The Bedworks of Maine

Leslie Sturzenberger
Consultant / Corporate Trainor