The Greene County Literacy Coalition was formed in 1988 to address the problem of illiteracy in Greene County.
The first meeting of the Greene County Literacy Coalition was held on September 6, 1988, when by-laws were ratified. Mary Aiken was elected as President of the board. The budget for the first year was $2,100, which included support from the United Way, a grant from the State Library, and individual donations. The first volunteer coordinator was Laura Burnett. On February 26, 1989, Susan Bayh came to Greene County to speak at a conference on the need to improve literacy.
In the fall of 1987 Emily Cooper, then librarian in Linton did her master’s thesis on literacy, and presented it locally. In May of 1988 three Greene County women (Laura Burnett and Jackie FriesTuhler of Linton, and Mary Aiken of Bloomfield) attended tutor training sessions in Bloomington given by the VITAL program coordinator Cathy Rogers.
The Literacy Coalition trained its first tutors. 13 tutors were paired with learners and four learners were on the waiting list. A spelling bee fundraiser was held, and the Coalition received grants totaling $5,000. Some of this money was used to sponsor a float to advertise the Coalition in the Linton, Owensburg, Scotland, and Jasonville parades. The Coalition also developed brochures for distribution throughout the county.
Karen Holz resigned as coordinator, and Mary Aiken replaced her, resigning her position as Board President. The Coalition sponsored several new programs during this time, including a storyteller at the Scotland Festival, and a booth in the commercial building at the 4-H Fair. The Spelling Bee fundraiser also continued.
In February 1995, the Literacy Coalition office was opened in the Bloomfield-Eastern Greene County Public Library. The Coalition received several grants, one of which was used to purchase $1,000 worth of new computers. The Coalition also began working with Head Start in Bloomfield and Linton to encourage parents to read to their children for 15 minutes per day.
The Coalition began to provide tutors for the Greene County Jail. By 1998 there were 12 students at the jail. This program was headed by Jim Medina. Literacy flyers were distributed in bank statements sent out by four local banks. During this time the first website was created and hosted by the Bloomfield-Eastern Greene County Public Library.
This time period saw much change, as Mary Aiken resigned and was replaced by Mary Witte for a three-month period, who was then replaced by Christina Campoll. Eight inmates at the jail and one additional students successfully completed their GED in 2000.. The Coalition also developed a lending library for Head Start Staff to take to students.
During this time the Coalition held its first successful fundraiser, an Antiques Evaluation with Bill Lawrence. The Coalition received grants of $3,000 from the Indiana Literacy Foundation and $1,000 from the WalMart for Literacy program. 19 students received GEDs at the jail in 2001.
Christy Campboll resigned as coordinator and was replaced by Beth Burcham. The Coalition received a CAPE grant that provided computers, software, materials, and the salary of the coordinator. The Coalition received a donation of 200 books for the Head Start program from the National Catholic Youth Conference.
In 2004 the Coalition received non-profit Sales Tax Exemption. The Coalition also hosted the Trivia Bowl, its second successful fundraiser, and was awarded grants from Toyota and Verizon. As of August, 2004, there were 16 tutors and 25 learners.
In 2005 we have continued to provide services to individual adult learners, provide the Head Start with the Family Literacy program, tutor at the jail, provide Easy-to-Read articles to the local newspapers, and we added a tutoring program at the Rehab Center in Bloomfield. Beth Burcham, coordinator, presented a summary of our services on WQTY radio in January and we hosted a program by Polly Gettinger on reading food labels to make healthy choices. In May we participated in the Sample Fair. There were 28 learners working with tutors, including those at the jail and the Rehab Center. Work One gave us access to the computer education program Key Train for our students to use. We partnered with the Linton Public Library to present a float in the Linton July 4th Parade. Our 2005 Annual meeting recognized 3 people who have received their GED. In November we hosted our first Trivia Bowl with 12 teams competing. Patrece Dayton was the moderator and we made $602. In November we finalized our Strategic Plan for Growth which the board had spent several months developing.
In February 2006 it was reported that 7 had passed their GED with another partial pass since our September Annual meeting. There were 20 learners working with tutors. Again we attended the Civitan Sample Fair. The proposed budget for 2006-2007 had $10,000 in the Cape Grant funds and an additional $18,000 in the Cape Grant Interest Fund. Our expenses for 2005-2006 were $11,399. At the annual meeting Beth Burcham was complemented for her work as our part time coordinator. She was busy interviewing and instructing prospective tutors and interviewing, giving practice tests and pre tests for those interested in being tutored or obtaining their GED, working with the Head Start and other community groups, and generally being our face and voice to the public. Our Trivia Bowl this year had 11 teams participating and brought in $704. Valerie Abshire did a wonderful job collecting prizes for each team. In November Beth reported 25 learners including 3 at the jail and 6 at the Rehab Center.
In January 2007 we had 27 learners working with tutors. In April, the treasurer reported total assets of $31,359. Some of this was in CD’s. In April the new Work Release Center was opened and we moved our GED prep classes from the Rehab Center to this location where classroom space is available. Again we attended the Sample Fair. A Cape Mini Grant awarded us $4,000 which was added to our Community Foundation Endowment Account. We now have $7,560 in this fund. We received a $600 grant from the REMC to purchase materials for the jail and work release center. Beth presented the “Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library” program several times. At our annual meeting a GED recipient reported she was enrolling in the nursing program at IVY Tech. It is great to know our efforts are bearing fruit. The Trivia Bowl was again a success with a profit of $986.00, lots of fun and challenging questions.
In 2008 the GED testing site was moved to the Community Learning Center. They are now testing at the Greene County Jail. For most of the year we had 25 learners working with tutors with five receiving their GED. In September the Bloomfield Town Council, and the Linton and Jasonville mayors declared Greene County Literacy Day and businesses throughout the county participated in an awareness campaign and fund raiser by asking customers to donate $1.00 to our cause. An IUPUI web class created a new web site for the Greene County Literacy Coalition. David Wire served as moderator of the 2008 Trivia Bowl. Again it was a time of fun and challenge.