In every city, there are adults who cannot read a menu, write a check, or help their children with homework.
To help combat that problem, the Orange library system this month will launch its first one-on-one tutoring program to help "functionally illiterate" adults in the community.
The library was awarded a $35,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education in July to fund a one-year literacy program. With the grant money, the city hired a part-time coordinator and clerk, who this week will begin to set up the program's headquarters at the Taft Library's Salter Annex.
Currently, the program is seeking up to 100 volunteers who will be trained to work with adult students, said literacy program coordinator Valerie Stadelbacher. Each tutor will be matched with one student, and they will meet at least two hours each week.
The literacy program will use methods that have been developed specifically for teaching adult students. Reading and writing skills will be applied to real-world experiences, such as reading a job application or writing a resume.
Beginning in January, tutoring will be available at each of the city's four library branches and at the Friendly Stop, a sub-branch of the library that is located at 615-A N. Lemon St., making the program accessible to all residents.
"Our different branches almost represent sub-communities of the city," said Stadelbacher, who also ran a family literacy program in Riverside. "I see the literacy program uniting our different communities."
While the word illiterate conjures up many stereotypes, Stadelbacher described her students as "very intelligent people who for some reason missed some phonics in school or missed the basics."
"These people come to this program and say, 'I just want to start from scratch,' " she added.
For more information about the literacy program or to volunteer, call (714) 288-2469.