Literacy Volunteers distributing survey

ELKINS – Literacy Volunteers of Randolph County President Maryann Maxwell Durland asked the Elkins Rotary Club for help Monday in completing a survey about literacy.

The survey contains nine questions, and the group is looking for input from city and county government, businesses, non-profit organizations and concerned residents relating to the status of and impact of adult illiteracy in the community.

Durland said the group hopes to compile the results for public distribution in the spring, and the results will guide the group’s continuing programming. She shared some alarming facts about literacy with Rotary members Monday.

“The United States only ranks fifth in the world in adult literacy skills,” Durland said. “In West Virginia, 29 percent of residents can only read at an eighth-grade level.”

Durland said 75 percent of inmates in state prison are illiterate and 59 percent of inmates in federal prison are illiterate.

“Low health literacy costs folks $230 billion each year,” Durland said. “(Currently) 77 million Americans only have a 2 in 3 chance of correctly reading directions to use an over-the-counter drug.”

Durland said the group will be sending on-line survey links to businesses for their input.

“We want to understand what you perceive literacy to be in your workplace and your community,” Durland said.

She said the group is looking for volunteers to help provide direct services and work with adults to improve literacy skills.

“The most important trait of a volunteer is to be able to listen to others and be respectful,” Durland said. “We have a waiting list of those needing help.”

Durland said the group is offering tutor-training workshops at the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library from 6 to 9 p.m. on March 19 and 26 and April 5. Training is free and refreshments will be served.

The Literacy Volunteers of Randolph County was established in 1982 and is completely funded by the United Way of Randolph County.

The Literacy Volunteers have a long-standing commitment to offering their services with reading and writing, or with English as a second language, by tutoring people age 16 and older.

The Literacy Volunteers of Randolph County office is located at 400 Davis Ave. in the Elkins-Randolph County YMCA in Elkins. More information about services and volunteer opportunities is available by calling 304-636-4515 or by e-mail at