Barb Fisher and Meredith Nasif spend their days at Renaissance working behind the scenes on the company’s Accelerated Reader product. The two long-time Renaissance employees also dedicate some of their free time at the Portage County Literacy Council (PCLC). The organization helps area adults develop the basic math and English literacy skills necessary to achieve economic self-sufficiency and community integration.
Barb says she first learned of PCLC when a former Renaissance colleague took a job with the organization and knew she wanted to eventually volunteer with the group. In fall of 2020 she decided the time was right. “My kids are grown, and now I have time to give back to the community,” she says.
Barb was paired with a learner from Nicaragua who works on a local dairy farm. His goal is to speak English confidently with his boss and in everyday exchanges such as asking for help at a store. At first, the man spoke no English. Now, after several months of weekly, basic-English tutoring sessions over video, he has advanced to conversational English. “It’s so rewarding and gratifying to help someone achieve their goals, and to feel more comfortable in their community,” Barb says. “I know that I’m a better person for knowing and working with him and PCLC.”.
Meredith also began volunteering with PCLC in the fall. She began tutoring a man from Guatemala who, after 15 years of living in the U.S., is working toward earning his GED and U.S. citizenship. “Our time together is focused on preparing for his citizenship test,” Meredith says. “My husband immigrated to the U.S., so I know how challenging the test can be. The learner I’m working with is very committed to his goals and that makes me feel invested in his success.”
Barb and Meredith both say they feel a strong connection between their volunteering and their work at Renaissance. “Working with PCLC allows us to carry out the Renaissance mission in the community,” Meredith says. “We’re accelerating learning for adults, and we’re making a difference in peoples’ lives.”