Literacy and numeracy skills matter more than words can say. This is the reason why, in 1989, a group of concerned citizens took it upon themselves to form the Organization for Literacy in Lambton (OLL). They wanted to ensure everyone in Lambton County had the opportunity and the resources to read, to write, and to walk confidently through doors to opportunity. Three decades on, OLL offers free programs and services for adults to help them improve basic math, reading, and writing. The agency also added supports for learning and upgrading computer skills.
OLL’s Adult Literacy Program is an Employment Ontario Service, funded in part by both the provincial and federal governments. According to OLL’s General Manager, Lisa Shearer, “Our programs are designed for individuals who want to learn in order to achieve a specific goal.” Improving math and reading, and computer skills will prepare a learner for college, for career advancement, or for a new career path.
After more than a decade of providing fee-free support to adult learners, OLL expanded to include youngsters in its programming. Train Your Brain, (formerly “Skill and Drill”), is designed for students in need of additional supports. “Play-based activities for grades 1 through 7 make it fun and really engage the students as they build math and reading skills as well as foster confidence and a love of learning.” Through fundraising and community partnerships, OLL is able to provide a paid tutor to oversee the children. The tutor, working with dedicated volunteers, offers guidance to eager students at each program site, located throughout the County. Registration for this program opens in September.
OLL is a non-profit charity. As such, Lisa states, “we are so grateful for the support we have received from this community, not only financially, but also from our amazing volunteers.” Opportunities to volunteer exist for both the Adult and Family Literacy programs, as well as for special events. The agency welcomes inquiries from any business, service group or individual interested in learning more about OLL’s mandate.
Beyond providing one-to-one and group programs for adults and children, OLL promotes literacy by providing the community with physical books. Through its Take-A-Book service, OLL partnered with two dozen locations throughout Lambton County by supplying book-bins with gently-used, shareable stories. OLL also encourages youngsters to read through its annual Give-A-Book Campaign. “In 2019, through the generous donations of sponsors and individuals, we were able to purchase 2,872 new books for children in Sarnia-Lambton.” In turn, OLL organized and gave the assortment of board books, graphic novels and journals to partner agencies such as the Inn of the Good Shepherd, the Salvation Army, and the Women’s Interval Home.
The Organization for Literacy in Lambton is passionate about sharing its enthusiasm for learning. According to Lisa, “Witnessing a learner’s ‘ah ha’ moment is the best! Whether it’s a Train Your Brain student discovering fractions or an Adult Learner completing a milestone, it’s a big occasion and we celebrate right along with them.”