On February 17, LCUP celebrated its 30th Anniversary of Changing Lives Through Literacy at the Dunedin Public Library.? The well-attended event included the organization’s annual meeting with speakers?Pat Bauer, President, Library Director Phyllis Gorshe,? Jan Demers and Carol Kennedy.? Both Jan and Carol are members of the LCUP Board of Directors, tutors and Conversation Class leaders and spoke about their experiences in literacy.? Learner Dorotea Chavez spoke about the difference learning English has made in her life.
City Commissioner Deborah Kynes presented a proclamation from the City of Dunedin in recognition of the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas’ 30th Anniversary.? Read the proclamation here.
The following history of LCUP was presented by President Pat Bauer:
? ? ???????????? A History of the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas, 1988- 2018
The Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas grew out of increased need for adult literacy services in north county due to population growth and demographic changes in the 1980s. The council was formed by a group of dedicated citizens who were originally affiliated with the St. Petersburg Literacy Council and saw the need to incorporate the north county program. Our articles of incorporation are dated February 2, 1988.
FAREWELL, SISTER MERITA, AND THANK YOU!
Sister Merita has returned to Ohio, and the students and tutors of the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas attended her farewell party.? Her friend, Sister Renetta, also attended. ? Here’s the story of her life of dedication and love:
Sister Merita Strahler
Sister Merita Strahler, SND (Sisters of Notre Dame), a resident of Dunedin for 17 years, has been a longtime teacher, advocate, and volunteer helping refugees and immigrants make a new start in this country.
You never know what you might find yourself doing when you?re a volunteer literacy tutor for the Literacy Council of Upper Pinellas. ?Jan Demers recently discovered herself on the beach playing a non-speaking role in a short film.
Ximena Orozco, a Colombia native with a degree in Dramatic Arts and limited English speaking skills, came to Florida two years ago to join her husband, Antonio, and to pursue an acting career.? For the first few months Ximena spoke primarily to Spanish speakers.? Then last spring when she moved to Pinellas County and began taking an acting class at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Ximena discovered she could understand very little of what her teacher said.? When she learned about LCUP?s services, Ximena began attending weekly conversation classes at Clearwater East Library and working with LCUP tutors Sister Merita Strahler and Jan to improve her speaking ability.
Ximena refers to Jan as her ?fairy godmother.?? With Jan?s assistance in improving her pronunciation and expression, Ximena has landed English speaking roles in three short films thus far.? In A Bright Second, a film being produced by Pitch Her Productions, an all-woman, non-profit organization based in St. Petersburg, Ximena plays the role of a lesbian bride.?? During the scene of the beach wedding, Jan was invited to play a non-speaking role as one of the congregation members.?? In a few months Ximena and Jan will be excited to attend the film?s premiere.?
Having tutored many English language learners from various counties, Jan says that working with an aspiring actress is a new and exciting venture for her. During tutoring sessions, Ximena and Jan practice reading play scripts for Ximena?s acting class and various film roles.? When Jan was invited to be a part a scene in ?A Bright Second,? she experienced the thrill of seeing one of those scripts come alive.? By the time the day of the filming arrived, Jan had memorized the script. She said Ximena?s lines to herself as Ximena delivered them during the filming session on the beach.? ?I feel like I?m living vicariously through her,? she said, ?and I love it.?
Jan Demers, LCUP tutor, watches English Language
Learner Ximena Orozco act during the filming of A
Bright Second on the beach in St. Petersburg.