SFist feels promoting literacy is something everyone should be involved with. Yes, we read alot, but we wanted to do more than that. So, we became a Project Read volunteer. The San Francisco Public Library-sponsored program is a little known gem located on the second floor of the Larkin Street main library. Project Read provides free one-on-one tutoring to English-speaking adults who want to improve their basic reading and writing skills. The Library estimates that 80,000 San Francisco adults -- one in every five -- have some difficulty with basic reading and writing. Wow.

We met our learner, Jennifer, after an orientation and twelve hours of basic tutor training. Jennifer has lived a hard life. She graduated from high school with an extremely remedial understanding of how to read, and spent years on the streets as a prostitute and drug addict. She was referred to Project Read through her live-in rehab program. We quickly hit the ground running, and proceeded to meet once or twice a week for the next year. Not only was Jennifer learning to improve her skills, but we were given the amazing opportunity to meet a special person, who was full of character, and marked with an incredible perseverance.

Project Read is always looking for new tutors; you don't have to have a teaching background to become one. You just have to have the passion to want to help someone else, and the willingness to meet your tutor once or twice a week for the minimum of one year. Stop by the Project Read office, or email ([email protected]) or give them a call (557-4388). They are also always accepting donations if you are just too busy to commit to being a tutor. You will be glad you did your part to help.