Literacy News

Ulster Savings donates $5000 for farmworkers program

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Empowering People Through Literacy

Here is Rosita's testimonial:

"Before I came to Ulster Literacy I was afraid to speak English because I thought people would laugh at my pronunciation.  But after studying English with a tutor that Ulster Literacy provided, I can talk to my clients, I can talk to other people, I'm able to speak to anybody!"

Rosita is a home healthcare worker.  She is from Mexico, but now has American citizenship.  During our last meeting she told me, among other things, that the only formal schooling she received as a child was one year, in Mexico, where she grew up on a farm.  She spoke no English when she arrived in the USA.  But her agency helped her (with classes, I believe), as did BOCES and ULA.  Here in Kingston she has brought up five children, now grown (or almost).  Her oldest son is an electrical engineer.  Her two other sons are Marines, one trained as a computer expert and the other as a drone operator.  Her older daughter is an RN, and her younger daughter hopes to become a pediatrician.  This is the American dream incarnate, to me.  This is who we are, we Americans.  Working through ULA with Rosita and other learners like her restores some small part of my belief in my country, which is under such terrible attack, just now, from within.

It's a privilege to get to know my learners; they teach me so much! And they offer me the opportunity to do something positive for immigrants-not to mention human beings in general-in this heartbreaking time.

I love many aspects of tutoring my adult student.  One aspect in particular has been learning a lot about another culture and way of life through the conversational part of our work.  I feel like I receive as much as I give.

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Literacy news

Aug 15, 2019 - Ulster County Chamber to give ULA its 2019 Commitment to the Community award

2019 marks the 15th year the Chamber has recognized the best of Ulster County's businesses and business leaders.  The annual awards, this year in 7 categories, are given to deserving Chamber members who are deemed to be leaders in their sectors or have shown dedication and commitment to furthering business and the quality of life in Ulster County.  The 2019 awards will be presented at the Chamber's annual Business Recognition Awards Dinner on October 24th.

Nov 13, 2018 - Community Foundations grant supports learner assessment process

Ulster County Community Grants Fund of the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley has awarded ULA a grant to fund the purchase of new testing materials to assess the progress of our learners.  Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley has been a recurring source of critical funds for the ongoing operation of Ulster Literacy Association.

Aug 20, 2018 - Ulster Savings donates $5000 for farmworkers program

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Ulster Literacy Association receives a $5,000 check from the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation. Pictured (from left to right) Amy Lenard, Program Director, ULA; Jay Levine, Office Manager, ULA; Bill Calderara, President and CEO, Ulster Savings Bank; Casandra Beam, CEO, ULA; John Finch, EVP/COO, Ulster Savings Bank; Jeanine Lindhorst, Board Member, ULA; Lisa Hantes, Volunteer Coordinator, ULA; and MaryRose Warcholak, Senior VP of Branch Administration.

ULA recruits, trains, and supports volunteers throughout Ulster County to become literacy tutors for adults who want to learn to read and write or improve their English. They currently provide English for Parents classes at three schools in Kingston; they teach life skills, writing, and computer literacy to inmates at the county jail; they support 125 one-to-one tutoring pairs, and teach farm workers on six farms in Ulster County.

"We continuously look for new opportunities to place our volunteers in meaningful and impactful teaching situations," said Casandra Beam, Ulster Literacy Association CEO. "Thanks to this generous grant from Ulster Savings, we can continue to provide one-to-one tutoring, group lessons, and an annual Thanksgiving Dinner for the participants in our English for Farmworkers program," she added.

The Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation was formed in 2003 to assist the local community in areas of housing, education, and human services.

Apr 5, 2018 - ULA receives $5000+ Community Development grant

Ulster Literacy Association has received a grant in the amount of $5,940 from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in support of ULA's English for Parents program.  The program provides English language training for the parents of children enrolled in the Kingston and New Paltz school districts.  The funds will provide for care of children while their parents are attending classes.  Funding is administered through the Kingston city Common Council, which authorized the payment.

Dec 6, 2017 - Community Foundation grant received

The Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley awarded ULA a grant for $2700 to purchase text books for our tutors.  We will be providing every new tutor in 2018 a copy of "The Reading Teachers Book of Lists" when they complete their training.  This is an invaluable resource that will provide volunteers with a much needed resource for lesson planning and curriculum development for their learner.

Nov 19, 2017 - 36 players at Scrabble event

ULA raised $750 for the English for Farmworker program at our Scrabble event, held at Keegan Ale.  36 players competed, while consuming delicious food and drink, all for just $25 each.

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Photo by Jay Blotcher

ULA held its semi-annual "Scrabble Afternoon" at Keegan Ales in Kingston.  Proceeds from the tournament will benefit ULA's tutoring of migrant farm workers in the Gardiner and Wallkill areas.  Pictured (from left): Referee Jay Levine, winners Tova Weitzman and Howie Leibovitch of New Paltz and their new gift set, and Casandra Beam, chief executive officer of ULA.

Selected history

Jun 21, 2017 - 60 attend recognition event

60 learners, their tutors, and ULA staff attended the annual recognition event held at the Kingston Area Library.

Photo of a learner and her tutor, both smiling. Behind them a banner reads 'Build a better world.'
Photo of a smiling man playing a set of 4 African drums.

Entertainment was provided by one of the learners.

Photo of a learner and her tutor.
Photo of three learners with their tutors

Apr 9, 2017 - Scrabble winners announced

Photo of four women, smiling.

Photo by Edna Welthorpe

WORD CHAMPS: At the recent "Scrabble Afternoon" tournament, a benefit for ULA held at New World Home Cooking in Saugerties, four local vocabulary whizzes took top prizes. In first place: Patti Scribner of High Falls (lower right) and teammate Iza Trapani of Rifton (behind her). In second place: Jess Robie (lower left) and teammate Brenda Robie (behind her) of Rosendale.

Feb 10, 2017 - Want to help immigrants? Become a literacy tutor

ULA volunteers in Gardiner teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to farm workers, right at the farms!  Read all about the Southern Ulster Farm Program.

Nov 25, 2016 - A Thanksgiving feast for ULA farm workers

Reaching out beyond the traditional four-wall teaching environment, one woman impacts the lives of many.  Read a real Thanksgiving story.

May 5, 2016 - ULA's Parental ESL program featured in charming school video

Combined with Montessori techniques to educate children, the George Washington school participates in ULA's Parental ESL project to educate their parents too. 

June, 2015 - ULA receives $15,000 ALCOA grant

ALCOA corporation has awarded Ulster Literacy $15,000 as part of a competitive grant program.  The grant application was supported by Alcoa Fasteners employee Marcia Kemp, who has also volunteered as a ULA literacy tutor.  The funding will be used to increase ULA's capacity to serve the rural population.

Jun 17, 2015 - ULA Director among leadership graduates

ULA Director Casandra Beam graduated in a leadership class of more than a dozen people from the local community.  The Ulster Leadership Development Institute (ULDI) conducts the 18-week program, which meets once a week and strives to educate future leaders about the community, local and state government, law enforcement, arts and culture, and community development, preparing graduates to serve on local boards and community organizations.  As a class project, the group raised $5,400 for Family of Woodstock's Darmstadt Shelter, exceeding their goal of $5000.  Commenting on her experience, Director Beam said:

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The incredible work being conducted by our volunteers at the Ulster Literacy Association often goes unnoticed by the local business community.  My participation in ULDI has given me an opportunity to introduce myself to many influential people and help raise awareness about the challenge of illiteracy in Ulster County.  The workshops on self-development and leadership styles have been invaluable, and I have shared components with my staff and board members.  Also, I've been able to see a bigger picture of the complex community in which we live - and not just remain singularly focused on my agency and its mission.  My ULDI colleagues are now an important professional network that I can call upon for support.  And lastly, I feel more comfortable at Chamber events because I know people now!  Thanks for a terrific experience.

Nov 5, 2014 - ULA Director speaks at SEFA breakfast

SUNY New Paltz invited ULA to speak to 100 administrators and employees of the university about the importance of offering everyone in Ulster County an opportunity to receive an education.

ULA Director Casandra Beam at lecturn

Photo by Robin Weinstein

ULA Director Casandra Beam speaks to SEFA breakfast attendees.

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Photo by Robin Weinstein

SUNY New Paltz President Donald Christian, with the day's speakers, displays plaque of appreciation to the employees of the college for the best overall SEFA campaign of 2013.

Nov 2, 2014 - Another successful Scrabble™ tournament

Keegan Ales was the location (and primary sponsor) for an overflow crowd at this popular annual event.  Participants sharpened their word skills while sampling the house beverages, a most challenging combination!  A good time was had by all, as can be seen in these photos.  If you missed out, watch for a repeat event around this time in 2015.

A room full of people playing Scrabble and conversing.

Photo by George Bartalsky

A room full of people playing Scrabble and conversing.

Photo by George Bartalsky

A room full of people playing Scrabble and conversing.

Photo by George Bartalsky

A room full of people playing Scrabble and conversing.

Photo by George Bartalsky

Aug 8, 2014 - Kingston Freeman interviews ULA Director

The Freeman's Brian Hubert conducted a wide-ranging interview with ULA Director Casandra Beam, including a discussion of the literacy problem and what ULA is doing to address it.

You can read the complete interview at the Kingston Freeman website.

May 7, 2014 - Satellite office opens

Ulster Literacy Association has opened a satellite office in the Kingston Area Library at 55 Franklin Street.  Open every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., the office gives ULA a more prominent face in the community and provides a convenient contact point for current or prospective students who cannot easily travel to our main office.  By appointment, the office can also provide a welcoming place for tutors to meet with their students.

Feb 4, 2014 - Donation received from Sawyer Savings

Sawyer Savings representative presents a check to Ulster Literacy Association CEO.

Sawyer Savings Assistant Branch Manager Cherie Ingrassia presents Ulster Litaracy CEO Casandra Beam with a $250 donation check at the bank's main office in Saugerties.

Jan 30, 2014 - A fictional student journey

This story from a commercial portrays the journey of an adult language learner beautifully – we invite you to watch it.

Dec 4, 2013 - Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation supports Ulster Literacy Association with $9,500 grant

Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation representative presents a check to Ulster Literacy Association CEO.

MaryRose Warcholak (far right), Executive Director of the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation, and Tammy Gillon (far left), Foundation board member, present the Foundation's $9,500 grant check to Casandra Beam (2nd from right), Chief Executive Officer of the Ulster Literacy Association, and John Young (2nd from left), President of the Board of Directors of the Ulster Literacy Association, at Ulster Savings Bank's 180 Schwenk Drive, Kingston headquarters.

The Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation recently awarded a $9,500 grant to the Ulster Literacy Association in support of their Capacity Building Program.

Since 1981, the Ulster Literacy Association (ULA) has helped nearly 5,000 adults improve their communications skills and certified thousands of literacy volunteers.  The Charitable Foundation grant will allow ULA to provide educational services to 25 adults that are on their 2014 waiting list.

"Literacy is an area that the Charitable Foundation feels strongly about," noted MaryRose Warcholak, Executive Director of the Ulster Savings Charitable Foundation.  "The Ulster Literacy Association has a great track record of providing literacy services to areas throughout Ulster County.  We're pleased to know our grant will help them to expand their outreach in 2014."