FRIDAY FOCUS: Charles County Literacy Council

Do you have an interest in helping someone learn to read or write? The Charles County Literacy Council is an organization dedicated to serving individuals who need support in learning to read, write and basic math. They provide tutoring services and programs to help adults obtain GED’s, pass required exams, obtain a job or degree and more. Through their passion and commitment they have impacted so many individuals, families and our society as a whole by breaking the cycle of poverty and helping those who want to, achieve success. In this week’s Friday Focus we spoke to Susan Petroff, Outreach & Development Coordinator, Charles County Literacy Council and discovered how we can lend a hand to help them!

Q: Tell us about your organization (who you serve, what you do, etc.)

The Charles County Literacy Council (CCLC) provides free, one-on-one adult literacy tutoring to ensure that all adults living in Charles County have access to the quality education needed to fully realize their potential as individuals, parents and citizens. For 53 years, CCLC has provided tutoring to adults in the areas of reading, writing and basic math.

Since its inception in 1964, the Charles County Literacy Council (CCLC) has helped thousands of adults, most of whom go on to obtain their GED’s, drivers licenses, pass their military entrance exams, become U.S citizens, obtain better paying jobs, even go on to obtain college degrees. These accomplishments enable adult learners to break their families’ cycle of poverty and become productive members of the Charles County workforce.

Volunteer tutors are from all walks of life and are trained in the internationally recognized Laubach Way to Reading, facilitated by the national organization ProLiteracy, to ensure that each student receives the quality tutoring they need. Each tutor spends from one to three hours each week helping their adult learners reach their particular literacy goals.  All text books and learning materials are provided at no cost.

Q: What is your favorite “moment” (example of how your organization helped)?

We have many inspirational stories to share, but this one is a good example of the kind of impact tutors are having on the lives of adults living in our County.

Charles County Literacy Council …. Changing Lives



Meet CCLC Tutor Debora Storey (left) and Josian Karantassi (right)

Within 18 months of one-on-one tutoring Josian made great strides in her reading skills and her confidence level also jumped exponentially. She soon requested help in preparing for her citizenship test. Her first attempt was nearly successful. Her second attempt cinched it and she recently became a U.S. citizen on September 30th. Now, she is studying to get her driver’s license, complete religious studies so she can become a member in full standing with her Church and is making progress towards her GED.

“The experience we have shared is like no other I have experienced. I can’t wait to meet her young children, who are learning to speak English in their local school in their native country of Mali.” – Debora Storey, CCLC Tutor

Q: What is your biggest challenge?

More than one in ten people living in Charles County cannot read, write or do basic math above a third grade level. According to the Maryland Alliance for the Poor, there are currently more than 15,000 residents in Charles County reading at the lowest reading levels. Currently CCLC operates with a half-time program coordinator and 100 dedicated volunteers, who donate hundreds of hours of their time and energy each year to help others reach their literacy goals. Adult literacy programs nationwide are underfunded and Charles County, Maryland is no exception.

Right now, CCLC does not have the financial and human resources to adequately meet the literacy demands of Charles County. We have many more requests than tutors to help those in need. In November and December we launched a corporate fundraising campaign as well as a tutor drive in order to expand our services and meet the growing need in Charles County.

Q: Are there any upcoming events?

We have a Tutor Training Workshop coming up in April. If anyone is interested in becoming a tutor and would like to attend the workshop, please contact Linda Heimpel at

If there are community events, where you think that the Literacy Council should exhibit or opportunities to speak at meetings, please contact Susan Petroff at

Q: How can people get involved with your organization?

In addition to tutors, we need volunteers to host our tables at community events, and assist in our office, which is located in the United Way house on Rte.488 near La Plata.

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