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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.

History

We began in 1969 with a Catholic nun and a Baptist laywoman. Retired teachers, Sister Mary Benigna and Agnes Beckwith were part of the heady mix of idealism and ecumenism that marked the late 1960s. They were recruited by the local chapter of Church Women United, whose national organization had set a goal of addressing low literacy.

With $50 and high hopes, Sister and Agnes set off for training in Syracuse, NY, where the pioneering Ruth Colvin had created an innovative tutoring program, Literacy Volunteers of America (now ProLiteracy).

Back in Bangor after the training, the two recruited a handful of volunteers and began the work that has changed the lives of countless Bangor-area adults.

We were the first Literacy Volunteers program in Maine, and the first outside New York. Fifty years since our founding, we proudly boast a small but mighty staff and hundreds of volunteers serving more than 300 area adult students each year.

Click here to learn more about the people who made Literacy Volunteers happen over our 50-year history.


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.

2018 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2015 Annual Report

2014 Annual Report

2013 Annual Report

2012 Annual Report

2011 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.

Meredith Eaton

Program Manager

One of Meredith Eaton’s first jobs was as a “fluffer and folder” at the old Filene’s at the Bangor Mall. She became a cosmetics consultant, and learned a lot about customer relations, which has served her well at Literacy Volunteers.

With a degree in University Studies with a focus in public administration, she’s our Program Manager and has a Certification in Volunteer Administration and is a Nationally Certified Poverty Coach. Meredith has been with us since 2006, first as a volunteer, then as staff since 2013.

Her greatest satisfaction? Seeing a student and tutor going beyond the lesson plan: “I love seeing the tutor going outside her or his comfort zone, and the student getting excited about learning!”

Favorite reads? Memoir and sociology.

Real-life superhero? Dorothea Dix and Carrie Fisher, who helped us understand more about mental illness.

Lehann Collins

Administrative Assistant

As a young woman, Lehann Collins worked in a bank. But it wasn’t long before she found her true calling: anything involving teaching, learning, and books. Lehann worked for years in a small New Hampshire school. She was very happy working with kids in special education classrooms from kindergarten through junior high. And she got to work in the library. “I loved putting books in the hands of non-readers,” she says.

So it’s only natural that this book lover feels completely at home in her role which she began in September 2018. “I really, really love the organization and what they do,” she says.

Superheroes: Her mother, Lorraine Groh, and Mother Teresa. Both were women of small stature who had profound faith, remarkable strength, and tremendous compassion for others.


Board of Directors

Officers

Kris Currier
President
Communication Specialist
Northern Light, Eastern Maine Healthcare

Mikayla Smith
Vice President
Vice President, Product Manager
Bangor Savings Bank

Jerrod Oltmann
Treasurer
Owner
J.P. Oltmann, IRS Representation

Natalie Nadeau
Secretary
Financial Services Representative
Thompson-Hamel, LLC.

Board Members

Kate Beale
Vice President Resource Development (Retired)
United Way of Eastern Maine

Sally Dobres
Human Resources (Retired)
University of Maine System

Liz Ellis
Project Manager, Process Improvement
Bangor Savings Bank

Kevin Foster
Insurance Agent
Brown, Holmes & Milliken Agency

JoAnne Rollins
Moderate Special Needs Teacher (Retired)
Chelmsford, MA, Public Schools

Kathleen Shane
Client Serve Associate
UBS Financial

Nichole Trainor
Philanthropy Officer
Northern Light Acadia Hospital

Sarah Twombly
Digital Strategist
Self-Employed

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