Liz Fuller, senior community library manager, has been recognized by Project Second Chance (PSC) for her dedication to bringing the adult literacy program to the Brentwood Library.
Fuller received the Anne Cain and Friends Award, named for a Contra Costa County librarian who retired in 2010. PSC staff created the award as a way to pay tribute to Cain’s support for literacy and the PSC program and to honor others who demonstrate those same values.
“Anne Cain was a fabulous director, and I’m honored to get the award that was named for her,” Fuller said.
Project Second Chance is an adult literacy program offered in various locations of the Contra Costa County Library system. Until last year, the program was mainly offered in the western parts of the county, except Pleasant Hill and Antioch. When the Brentwood Library expanded — from a space of about 6,000 square feet to roughly 20,000 square feet — in late September, Fuller saw an opportunity to bring the program there.
“We knew there was a place for them here,” she said. “We worked hard to make it an easy transition.”
PSC serves students at least 16 years old who have difficulty with basic reading, writing and spelling, are not enrolled in K-12 school and can communicate in English without an interpreter. Students meet with tutors twice weekly for 90-minute lessons and commit to at least six months. Tutors complete a 14-hour training program, are at least 21 years old and commit to volunteering for at least a year.
Leslie Mladinich, PSC’s senior library literacy assistant, coordinates tutoring for Brentwood and Antioch libraries, in addition to being a tutor.
“We’re so grateful to be here and that (Fuller) and her staff prioritized it so high,” Mladinich said.
Fuller serves as a sort of liaison for PSC, making potential students aware of the program through school visits and program listings. Mladinich and PSC recruit directly, networking through outreach meetings with nonprofits, other adult education networks, school districts and social media. Then she and her staff match students with tutors, ensuring an appropriate fit.
“Everybody was really for Liz getting the award this year, just because she made this opening so smooth,” Mladinich said. “She made us an integral part of this library from the get-go, and she’s always asking how she can spread the word.”
Spreading the word has paid off. PSC currently has a wait list of students because the demand is so high. Mladinich knows it is a big commitment, but she encourages people of all ages to consider tutoring if they can. The success stories from students speak volumes.
“You don’t have to be a teacher,” she said. “We have the staff to support you.”
PSC’s next tutor training takes place Wednesday, Sept. 4, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Saturday, Sept. 7 and 14, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Martinez Library, 777 Arnold Drive. For those who are interested in tutoring but may not be ready to commit, PSC will hold an orientation in the Brentwood Library’s community room Monday, Nov. 18, from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. The orientation will provide additional information and preview trainings in 2020, which will come in April, August and October.