PAL tutor Sarah Balitsky helps George Fletcher to improve his reading and writing skills at the PAL centre located in the Cariboo Friendship Society’s Hoy House on Third Avenue South.

PAL tutor Sarah Balitsky helps George Fletcher to improve his reading and writing skills at the PAL centre located in the Cariboo Friendship Society’s Hoy House on Third Avenue South.

Reach a Reader: Downtown PAL tutoring centre well received

George Fletcher had difficulty learning to read as a child but never suspected that he had a learning disability.

George Fletcher had difficulty learning to read as a child but never suspected that he had a learning disability.

He attended residential school where his disability was never recognized.

Frustrated he quit school in Grade 8 and went to work as a labourer with B.C. Rail.

Over the years he worked on sawmill green-chains and for the past 14 years has worked as a ranch hand on the Ashcroft and Gang ranches.

Throughout the years he has always wanted to learn to read and write better, but it wasn’t until being injured in a car accident last year that he had the time to try learning to read again.

His cousin told him about the Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy program where he is now working with volunteer tutor Sarah Balitsky on his reading and writing skills.

“My cousin encouraged me to come and try it out,” George says. “I can read words but I can’t write very well.”

George says he learns by paying close attention to what people are telling him, and by watching what they do and physically repeating tasks until he gets them right.

He says he learned to drive the tractor during haying time, but it was difficult for him to figure out the hydraulics to hook the rake to the tractor, so someone else would do that job for him.

“I really have to pay attention to what someone wants me to do,” George says.

These days George is spending an hour a week working on his reading and writing skills with Balitsky at the PAL centre which is located in the Cariboo Friendship Centre’s Hoy House next to the Paradise Theatre on Third Avenue.

Sarah also helps out as a tutor with PAL’s financial literacy and computer training programs as well.

She says she excelled in English and math at school and just has a natural knack for computers.

“I like to help people,” Sarah says. “I find it is very rewarding for both of us.”

Sarah also puts the skills she learned as PAL volunteer to work tutoring high school students toward graduation.

“Sometimes it is just about helping them to learn how to edit their assignments and use punctuation and grammar properly, Sarah says.

PAL co-ordinator Janette Moller says she is very pleased with the partnership Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy and the Cariboo Friendship Society developed a little over a year ago to establish the PAL learning centre at Hoy House downtown where it is more accessible for many adult learners to access than the centre located at the Thompson Rivers University campus.

Over the course of a year, she says PAL volunteers assist about 120 adult learners with one-on-one tutoring at the Hoy House centre, at Seniors’ Village, at the Williams Lake Library (computer tutoring) and at the TRU campus in Williams Lake.

The PAL centre at Hoy House is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. until noon.

For more information Janette Moller can be reached at  250-392-7833 or by e-mail at partnerassistedlearning@gmail.com or janette@caribooliteracy.com