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A hotline for literacy


If you know someone who cannot read this information, but longs to, tell them to pick up the telephone and dial 576-7323 (READ).

The number is the new hotline of the Baltimore City Literacy Volunteer Corps, a service not only for those who want to learn to read, but also for those who want to volunteer as literacy teachers.

The hotline acts as an information and referral service and was created by Baltimore Reads, Inc. the non-profit partnership between Baltimore City and the United Way of Central Maryland. It is designed to relieve the various, and often understaffed, literacy centers in the area.

Members of the Senior Aide Program work at the hotline, taking interviews and offering information and referrals. The Senior Aide Program is sponsored by the Baltimore City Health Department, and its members have been specially trained as interviewers.

The hotline is in operation Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. At other times an answering machine takes call which are later returned.

Rachel Skolnik, volunteer coordinator for the hotline, says there are an estimated 200,000 adults in the city who cannot read the label of a medicine bottle, a street sign or a birthday card, but would like to learn.

The hotline will also help to make sure potential volunteers will be placed where they are most needed, she says. "We need volunteers as tutors as well as classroom, library and computer lab aides, office workers and much more."

One volunteer to the program is Lloyd Haag, who has lived in Baltimore for 35 years and says, "I'm a city booster."

Since February he has tutored at the Zion Church Literacy Group at 400 E. Lexington St., and says he loves it.

His student, who is in his 30s, has a third-grade reading level and "we work together once or twice each week. I feel very good about him," Mr. Haag says, adding, "he has done extremely well and he, too, seems very happy with his progress,"

Mr. Haag, who won't divulge his age except to joke that he is "semi-retired and holding," is also a sailor. "I've always sailed," he says. "And since I obtained my captain's license several years ago, I have operated a charter sailing service on my 36-foot sailboat the Simpatica, taking groups out for a day or several days."

His wife Joan is a supervisor in speech and language therapy at Towson State University. They have three grown children.

The literacy program serves adults and out-of-school youths age 16 and over who want to read, write or learn English as a second language. Although the literacy centers in the program are all located in the city, anyone interested will be served.

Literacy centers are located in the following places: The New Community College of Baltimore, Harbor Campus, 600 E. Lombard St.; Office of Employment development, 417 E. Fayette St.; Enoch Pratt Free Library, 301 N. Broadway; Baltimore Reading Aides, 6200 Loch Raven Blvd.; The Baltimore Urban League, 322 N. Eutaw St.; Franciscan Center, 2212 Maryland Ave.; Greater Homewood Community Corp., 110 E. 33rd St.; H.E.A.L., 2100 McCulloh St.; The Learning Bank, 1223 W. Baltimore St.; The Learning Place Northwest, 2901 Druid Park Drive; MADAY, The Rotunda, 711 W. 40th St.; Northwest Baltimore Corp., 2319 W. Belvedere Ave.; Our Friends' Place, 775 W. Hamburg St.; Reach for Literacy, 4908 Liberty Heights Ave.; The Ripken Learning Center, 2435 N. Calvert St.; Saint Ambrose Outreach Center, 3445 Park Heights Ave.; St. Bernadine's Headstart, 3814 Edmondson Ave.; Saint Veronica's Damascus Education Center, 2920 Joseph Ave.; SECO, 10 S. Wolfe St.; South Baltimore Learning Corp., 28 E. Ostand St.; South-Southeast Development Corp., 100 S. Caroline St.; Spanish Apostolate, 10 S. Wolfe St.; Waverly Family Center, 901 Montpelier St.; Words for Life; 801 N. Broadway; York Road Council, 5210 York Road; and the Zion Literacy Group, 400 E. Lexington St.

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