VCLA participants pen books through literacy program

Wendy Elliott
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Marie White, left, Sophie Berube and local poet Bauke Kamstra converse about publishing at the Valley Community Learning Association office in Kentville. - Wendy Elliott, www.kingscountynews.ca 

Andrea Harvey, Marie Outhouse, Matt Cameron and Peggy MacEachern all got to write books because of the Valley Community Learning Association (VCLA).

Reading their books is a moving experience. Marie White and Sophie Berube help many people, some connected to Open Arms, to articulate their lives.

“We are in the storms, the nice storms and the difficult storms. Actually, there is no ending,” MacEachern wrote.

Outhouse, who is non-verbal, throws her soul into the illustrations for her books. Her brother, Reg, says the process has helped her articulate herself.

The VCLA team has eight more books in production during the third year of its literacy program, which has provincial funding.

White says that the self-expression that results is an affirmation for many who have not led easy lives. Berube, who is the family literacy co-ordinator, adds that ESL students also benefit from the program.

“They are all inspired by other people when they see what the others do and relationships develop,” White said.

VCLA, which depends largely on volunteer efforts, offers programs and tutoring for adults to improve reading, writing or math skills, earn their high school equivalency and more. The association offers these services for free.

The non-profit organization, which has been hit by federal funding cutbacks, has its major annual fundraiser, the Literacy Mile, coming up on June 7. Director Peter Gillis says the upcoming event is the 10th anniversary of the Literacy Mile.

The VCLA fears it could lose $171,000 from its annual budget for the coming year through federal funding cuts. Given those challenges, staff and volunteers are hoping for a positive and promotional day, says Gillis.

For more information, email vcla@eastlink.ca or call 679-5252 or 1-866-898-7323.

Weblink www.vcla.ca

Organizations: Valley Community Learning Association, Open Arms

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