FORT SMITH — Considered one of Nancy Martinez Tejada’s objectives as board president of the Literacy Council of Western Arkansas is to encourage others in the neighborhood.
Initially from El Salvador, Tejada, 35, was a pupil on the Literacy Council and served on its board earlier than being elected board president in August. She lives in Fort Smith together with her husband and two boys and runs her personal enterprise.
Tejada stated folks can do “wonderful issues” after they study one other language, as she did with English by means of lessons the Literacy Council offered.
“I believe what she needs is to ensure different folks know that, although it is exhausting to begin, you’ll be able to accomplish something you wish to should you simply put the work into it and get the show you how to want,” Bente Eriksen, government director of the Literacy Council, stated.
Eriksen stated the council, a nonprofit group, gives tutoring providers regarding a wide range of topics. This consists of grownup primary schooling, common academic improvement examination preparation, English as a second language, Spanish, citizenship and drivers schooling, in addition to well being, monetary and digital literacy.
The council provides the providers freed from cost to anybody 16 and older, in accordance with the group’s web site. New college students can enroll at any time, after which they’re matched with a volunteer tutor and tutoring periods — that are offered both one-on-one or in small teams — are scheduled primarily based on pupil wants and availability. The group began two further applications final yr — a garments closet in August and a meals pantry in October.
Eriksen stated the council not solely helps its college students by means of its academic providers, however their households and buddies by extension. By means of its different providers, resembling the garments closet and meals pantry, Eriksen needs the group to be generally known as a neighborhood house that can supply any sort of assist to anyone who is available in.
“We don’t have a look at if they’ve a delivery certificates, or if they’ve their standing as a result of they’re folks — all of them — and all of them need assistance,” Eriksen stated. “Most of the locations folks flip to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll show you how to,’ nevertheless it stops there. We wish to be the place that really may also help.”
Tejada stated she began taking one-hour lessons twice per week on studying, writing and talking English with a private tutor on the Literacy Council in 2013. Previous to this, she acquired a common academic improvement certification by means of the Crawford County Grownup Training Heart in Van Buren in 2009 and a highschool diploma in El Salvador.
Tejada was motivated to take the lessons by her want to get a greater job and have full conversations with various kinds of folks. She stated though she knew somewhat English on the time, she was afraid to a sure extent as a result of her accent.
“That is one of many greatest fears that many individuals like us have,” Tejada stated.
Tejada continued her schooling by means of the group for nearly a yr. She stated the lessons she took allowed her to study a language and lose her fears to the purpose she was in a position to begin her enterprise in January 2018 — Avanty Multiservice at 2231 Midland Blvd. She provides providers as a notary public, insurance coverage agent and tax preparer, working largely with the Hispanic neighborhood within the River Valley.
Eriksen stated Tejada started serving on the Literacy Council’s board about three years in the past.
“I needed to return one thing of what I used to be given,” Tejada stated.
Eriksen stated Tejada is doing very effectively as president of the board after her fellow board members voted her into this place. As a former pupil of the Literacy Council, Tejada is aware of what the group is doing and may do to assist folks. She additionally has a exceptional outreach to the Hispanic neighborhood.
“Having a former pupil sitting on the board is fantastic,” Eriksen stated. “I’ve former volunteers, I’ve former tutors sitting on the board, however having a pupil on the board, she is why we’re right here, and she will inform everyone why we’re right here and that is priceless.”
Eriksen stated Tejada leads by instance, working to personally tackle wants of the Literacy Council as they arrive up. She credit Tejada as one of many major instigators for the creation of the group’s meals pantry late final yr.
100 folks had been enrolled within the Literacy Council’s lessons in complete as of Thursday, in accordance with Eriksen.