The Hartford Chamber of Commerce recently spoke with Carol “CJ” DeVido Hauss, Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford (LVGH), to learn more about the organization’s contribution to the Hartford-area community.
Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford started over 40 years ago—how has the organization evolved?
CJ: LVGH opened 47 years ago as a small, grassroots volunteer tutoring service, providing one-on-one tutoring to less than 100 adults in Basic Literacy, reading, and writing for native English speakers. Students and tutors met in libraries, community centers, coffee shops, and church basements.
Today, LVGH teaches more than 900 adults each year in our Hartford and East Hartford Literacy Centers, and trains and supports 225 volunteer tutors annually. Nationally recognized by the Library of Congress with a Best Practices Literacy Award, we continue to provide small group instruction in Basic Literacy, along with English for Speakers of Other Languages, Digital Literacy, Math, U.S. Citizenship, and high school completion preparation.
Launched in 2015, our Career Pathways program addresses the issues of unemployment and under-employment among low-literate, Hartford-area adults by providing literacy instruction, career counseling, job training and placement.
LVGH also provides our employer partners with the ongoing support to help ensure our graduates are successful, productive employees.
Tell us about the impact Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford has on our region?
CJ: A volunteer-based program committed to best practices in both adult education and volunteerism, LVGH provides quality, cost-effective adult literacy services. At the same time, LVGH provides community members with enriching and engaging opportunities for volunteerism.
Our work also brings together segments of the community that may not otherwise engage with each other, nurturing connections between residents of Hartford and its suburbs that lead to a better understanding on both sides.
Why Greater Hartford? How did you decide on the location for your business?
CJ: Our Hartford Center is located at 30 Arbor Street in Parkville, a diverse neighborhood in Hartford—and arguably its most creative. We’ve been here since the 1990s. We needed a place that was accessible to students and volunteers. Our Center is available via two city bus lines, CT FasTrak, and a bike route and has lots of free parking. Many students live within walking distance.
In East Hartford, we are located off Burnside Avenue at 16 Church Street, in the educational wing of New Covenant United Methodist Church. We’re on a bus line with plenty of free parking, in a neighborhood where many students live within walking distance. In addition to ESOL classes, the practical component of our food services job-training program is located here, with trainees gaining experience preparing and serving free community dinners twice a week, under the direction of a chef who works for our employer partner, Sodexo.
What is the best thing about Hartford?
CJ: The best thing about Hartford is its diversity. I love being in a community where so many languages are spoken and so many countries and cultures are represented. This is what makes the city interesting and engaging, a place to learn and stretch outside one’s comfort zone.
Where do you see Hartford in the three to five years?
CJ: Hartford is emerging. It’s a very different place than it was when I moved here 37 years ago. My hope is that its transformation won’t be a solitary one, and that surrounding communities will transform along with it.
Learn more about Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford
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