Literacy Council volunteer tutors George Conly and Martin Cole were the recipients of the prestigious Elizabeth H. Seligmann Award presented at the Annual Celebration of Achievements ceremony on Nov. 2. They were honored for accomplishments that have helped to further the Literacy Council’s literacy goals and aspirations.
When retired systems analyst George Conly became a Literacy Council tutor in 2011, his first students were the Rohinis, a well-educated couple from Sri Lanka. But he soon went beyond tutoring as he helped the couple navigate the complexities of their new life in America, such as filing their first tax returns and purchasing a new car.
Throughout his 10 years as a tutor, George has been there for students wrestling with challenges, from finding a new place to live, to finding a new job, to dealing with medical emergencies. Because of George’s can-do spirit and commitment to give help, many students gained the confidence and skills needed to face the challenges of a new language–and a new life.
After retiring from the U.S. Postal Service, Martin Cole volunteered with the Literacy Council in 2011. One of his first challenges was to help a local small business owner create a plan that allowed her employees to learn English during the workday. As part of the Council’s Workplace Literacy Program, on his own Martin tutored small groups of employees onsite several times a week. Most recently, he has used the Zoom platform to fit lessons into one student, Joseph’s, very demanding schedule: working a night shift, attending classes at Frederick Community College, and supporting his wife and three children.
He also provided support for the Literacy Council’s Tutor Training program, serving as part of the workshop setup team that organized training rooms for multiple workshops each year. Martin–joined by George Conly–did the heavy lifting for a very grateful Tutor Training team. Martin’s resourcefulness and hard work have greatly benefitted the Literacy Council and the lives of the students he has helped over the years.
The Elizabeth H. Seligmann Award recognizes volunteers who have contributed sustained and significant contributions to the goals and objectives of the Literacy Council, consisting of outreach to others and reflecting distinctive qualities. This award was established in 2002 in honor of the late Betty Seligmann, who for 33 years served the Literacy Council with exceptional dedication.