Diane Groffen, executive director of Project Literacy Kelowna, is not only helping organize the annual Raise A Reader Day on Wednesday, but she intends to visit as many of the 35 locations in the Central Okanagan as possible to lend her support.
Literacy is the key to successfully navigating the Internet and the wider world, which is why The Daily Courier is a key partner in the annual Raise a Reader Day Wednesday.
About 100 volunteers will be hitting a record 32 locations in Kelowna and three in West Kelowna this year compared to 20 and two, respectively, last year.
They will hand out copies of Kelowna's seven-day-a-week publication in exchange for a donation - bring some change - to try to raise more than last year's record $36,000 for Project Literacy Kelowna Society.
Executive director Diana Groffen admits she was "really rather daunted" by the responsibility of organizing such a major community event with so many volunteers, locations and expectations. Especially since she just started the job three months ago.
"It's a lot of work, I'm so new and I've got so much other stuff going on. So I was getting a little stressed," Groffen said with a laugh.
"But it is really a valued campaign. It's an activity that people are really getting into. And it's been much easier than I could have ever anticipated to get the volunteers to come out for it."
She discovered there is not only a lot of Project Literacy Kelowna supporters in the Central Okanagan, but these supporters fully understand the importance of literacy.
"They are also generous human beings who are willing to give their time for a cause like literacy. And they obviously think Raise a Reader Day is a very appropriate campaign to use as a vehicle to fundraise for literacy."
Groffen intends to be at The Daily Courier office at 6 a.m. on Wednesday to help the logistics co-ordinator, then visit as many volunteer locations as possible.
Proceeds will go toward the society's tutor-learner offices at 591 Bernard Ave. and its core programming, which is unique in that it totally depends on volunteer tutors.
"At any given time, we have roughly 100 tutor-learner matches. They can meet whenever they want, wherever they want. They agree on a schedule and a place to meet that suits both of them," said Groffen.
Often, they like to come to the downtown headquarters where there are five tutor-learner offices, a library and an open area. During the past 25 years, Project Literacy Kelowna had made 5,600 matches. The education co-ordinators are Elaine Johnston and Bonnie Girouard.
"What you need to appreciate is that we don't have tutor-learners who meet once or twice and that's it. It's not like 'Come on in, we'll have a coffee, we'll chat with you, give you some advice and send you on your way.' The connection is deep and long. We have some who have been meeting for years," said Groffen.
A learner might start out learning English as a Second Language, "but they don't function well in a classroom setting; they want the one-on-one," she said.
Then they might want to increase their English skills because they want to get into a college program. When they get into that program, they may discover that they need help with math or physics literacy and they come back again.