Volunteer Spotlight: Meet George
As the Literacy Council celebrates our 60th anniversary of providing the Frederick County community with essential adult literacy programs, our volunteers have been the driving force behind six decades of impact. Thousands of passionate individuals have selected the Literacy Council’s mission and services as the place to dedicate their time. George Conly is one of those passionate volunteers who we are honoring in this month’s Volunteer Spotlight, contributing over 1,100 hours of volunteer time.
A retired systems analyst, George joined as a volunteer in 2011, becoming certified as a Literacy Council Tutor a month later, and was immediately matched with his first student, Sripanjalingam “Sri”, an anesthesiologist originally from Sri Lanka, and his wife, Rohini who was a high school accounting teacher. Their tutoring work quickly grew into a lasting friendship with the entire family.
George’s work with Sri and Rohini demonstrates how the Literacy Council’s mission to help adults with pathways to essential literacy skills often goes beyond reading and writing as described in this compelling 2016 article in The Frederick News-Post. Beyond tutoring the couple and helping Rohini with several classes at Frederick Community College — including college-level English and early childhood education — Conly coached them through several important milestones of their new life in America. He helped them to file their first tax return, and later accompanied Sri and Rohini to the Honda dealership where they bought their first car. “That’s another role for the tutors,” Conly said. “You help them navigate through the U.S., because things we take for granted are really strange to a newcomer, no matter how educated they are.”
George continued to tutor multiple students for ten years. When one of the Literacy Council’s students was facing challenges such as needing to find a new place to live, a better job, and health care, George pitched in to help during an especially critical time. One day when the student suffered a medical emergency, it was George who came to the rescue to make sure emergency care was provided.
If this isn’t enough, George also volunteered for numerous years as a member of the Tutor Training Workshop team, joined by volunteer Martin Cole, setting up the community room at the C. Burr Artz Library the afternoon before workshops were held on Saturdays about five times each year. Martin shared his experience working with George: “I cannot recall a time when I assisted in the setup for Tutor Training that George wasn’t there also. His attention to detail and affable manner always made the task easier for all involved. George truly epitomizes the can-do spirit of the Literacy Council’s volunteers!”
“In addition to being a terrific long-term tutor, the tutor training team could count on George to help set up the training room and transport materials before workshops. This was such an enormous help to us to arrive in the morning with the room ready to go!” Caroline Gaver, Literacy Council Tutor Trainer and Board Member Emeritus.
George has always been there for our students and our community, and we are incredible grateful for his many years of service and commitment to help Frederick County adults gain the English language proficiency and everyday life skills they need to build a sustainable future and become an integral part of our community. Thank you, from all of us at the Literacy Council!!
Last year, more than 145 passionate and dedicated volunteers like George contributed over 13,100 hours supporting the tutoring, class, parent and workplace literacy programs. The Literacy Council is always seeking volunteers, including class facilitators and instructors! Learn more by registering for a 60-minute Volunteer Information Session offered every month, followed by a Tutor Training Workshop. All sessions and workshops are currently conducted online.