RSVP’s literacy work is deserving

Frederick Douglas, the 19th-century abolitionist speaker who visited Peterborough in the 1850s, said, “Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” In his “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, an American Slave,” he tells us that with reading comes knowledge and with knowledge comes power.

We at the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript know how important literacy is, and the personal power derived from the ability to express one’s ideas in writing. But good writing skills are the result of many years of careful reading. That is why it is with great pleasure we announce that Monadnock RSVP has been awarded a Newspapers of New England $1,500 grant for its literacy program. The Ledger-Transcript is among the newspapers owned by Newspapers of New England.

For the last 15 years, Monadnock RSVP has worked with children in Jaffrey and Peterborough, among other towns in the region, helping empower them with the skills they need to become good readers through its America Reads program. The nonprofit organization connects volunteers, ages 55 and older, with Headstart and elementary students, as well as children in the afterschool program School Kids in Peterborough, for tutoring in reading.

In 2014, there are plans to add Jaffrey Headstart and Antrim Elementary School to the list of venues Monadnock RSVP volunteers regularly visit, and more venues are to be added in the years ahead. It all adds up to growing numbers of children getting the one-on-one assistance they need to grow as readers.

But to do that, more volunteers are needed. There are currently 68, and that number is expected to grow to 90 in the next three years. (For information about training opportunities, call 924-7350.)

RSVP has a long history, having been founded in 1971. It is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the same umbrella organization for AmeriCorps. Their mission is to draw on the strengths and talents of the community, in the case of RSVP it’s that of the older population, to create a network of support for those who need it most all throughout the country.

That mission resonates nowhere more strongly than in rural New Hampshire, with its tradition of neighbors helping neighbors.

And in the Monadnock region, we’re poised for growth, not only in the number of seniors choosing to call the area home, but also in the potential pool of retirees willing to lend a hand where volunteer opportunities present themselves. So we’re grateful Monadnock RSVP, with its offices in Peterborough and Keene, is providing the structure and expertise for those with wisdom and time to help facilitate the work of literacy, a cause that is more than worthwhile.

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