The Gift of Literacy

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Judi Treble was born and raised in this country, yet as an adult was considered illiterate.

She went to 13 schools in 12 years. Her mother was single and struggled with illness. She was never given the support or guidance necessary to gain the education she needed.  By definition, Judi Treble was illiterate the day she swallowed her pride and picked up the phone to call the Newport Beach Library Literacy Program five years ago.

Now, not only is Judi fully literate, she recently graduated from the tutor training and will pay it forward by becoming a literacy tutor and helping someone in return.

Judi will be among the people speaking next week at the Gift of Literacy Luncheon, the most important fundraising event of the year for Newport Beach Public Library Literacy Services.

It will be held at the Raddison Hotel on Friday, April 8,, beginning at 11:30 a.m.

“From the beginning I was treated with respect and dignity,” says Treble of her experience as a learner in the literacy program.  “First, they give you a test to see where you lie – what corresponding age and grade level you are reading and writing. Then they [match you] with a tutor, but they wait to make sure it is the right fit.”

Also speaking at the luncheon will be novelist and food writer Nicole Mones who will discuss her novels on Chinese culture, including “The Last Chinese Chef.” Mones will be signing copies of her book.

A raffle and silent auction will be held and each guest will receive a special gift from the program to celebrate its 25th anniversary.

Cherall Weiss, director of the Literacy Services, says in addition to raising money, the purpose of the event is to raise awareness of the problem of literacy in our community. According to Weiss, literacy encompasses the ability to fluently read, write, and speak in English as well as perform computational mathematics.

According to Weiss, 130-140 active learners currently are being served through the literacy program.  About 80 percent are foreign born and for many years their kids have helped them through life. Now their kids are grown and gone and they can no longer rely on them for help. The remaining 20 percent were born and raised in the United States, like Judi Treble.

Weiss also points out that the issue of literacy is very pressing, as oe-third of people living in California are foreign born and the majority of people in prisons are illiterate.

“Some immigrants were also illiterate in their own countries,” she notes, “but others were doctors or lawyers in their own country and come here and end up being house cleaners.”

As the NBPL website states: “Literacy services provides free literacy instruction to adults who live or work in the Newport Beach area.  Our dedicated volunteers have helped hundreds of people improve their English skills.  In doing so, these volunteers have helped change lives.   Literacy is a concern for everyone in our community, as it affects not only the learner, but employers, healthcare providers, schools and more.”

In addition to working towards proficiency in English, learners attend quarterly meetings to discuss and improve self-confidence, safety, and other issues.

Weiss beams, “At the last learner meeting, learners came up with ideas on how to better assimilate into our community. As a group they decided they would become involved in a volunteer project. Paying it forward. That’s what we aim for.”

The 4th Annual Gift of Literacy Luncheon

When: Friday, April 8

Time: 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Where: Radisson Hotel
4545 MacArthur Boulevard
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Price: $75 per person; $100 per person for Author’s Table

Tickets can be purchased online at – under literacy services or by calling (949) 717-3874. You can also buy tickets in person at the Central Library in the Literacy Services Office.

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