United Way Presents: GOALS: Helping the fight against illiteracy

Published 4:59 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

By Dawn Burleigh

(Editor’s Note: This is part 7 of a 21-part series on the partners of United Way of Orange County.)

Greater Orange Area Literacy Services (GOALS) is more than an annual Spelling Bee, it is a fight against illiteracy in Orange County.

Volunteers are trained to help adults who need to read or to improve their reading skills.

GOALS is an adult literacy program that is dedicated to providing adult basic education to individuals with a reading level below the 6th grade level or English as a second language (for non-English speakers).  GOALS also assists with GED preparation, Family Literacy and Workplace Literacy.

It receives funding through United Way of Orange County Texas.

“We average 45 persons with ESL our biggest program right now,” Rhonda with GOALS said.

ESL is English as a Second Language. ESL teachers specialize in helping non-native speakers of all ages and levels learn the formal grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation of spoken and written English, while giving them confidence in the common usage of the language in order to communicate clearly and comfortably with native English speakers.

Rhonda said she concentrates on administration duties but also assists with tutoring for the GED and basic math skills.

Last year, the annual Adult Spelling Bee, a fundraising event for the organization was cancelled due to COVID.

“Unfortunately, it is being cancelled this year as well,” Rhonda said. “Without the funding through the United Way, we would not be here. We are relying more on United Way now.”

GOALS hopes to try again in the Spring for the Bee, but it is at the mercy of the COVID numbers.

Funding from United Way pays for supplies, copy paper, student and teacher books, ink, pencils… the items students need to study.

“We have two employees, both part time,” Rhonda said. “We could not do what we do without grants.”

The organization also has a program with OCARC where they read a book and do a craft with the persons there.

“It helps them with their reading and it is a lot of fun,” Rhonda said. “I love what I do and I love helping people. A person can do so much more if they can read. The can read the morning news, a prescription bottle, and so many jobs require at least a GED.”

She added that for international persons, it can help them understand their child’s teacher or doctor better.

Alexis Torres went to the organization for tutoring to get her GED. She was homeschooled and knew she needed some assistance with the math portion of the test.

“I learned about the organization at the Orange Public Library,” Torres said. “They helped a lot. I had something I could look at as it was explained and was able to work at my own pace.”

After passing her GED, she was able to start her college career.

“I would not have passed the test without them,” Torres said.

To learn more about GOALS, call 409-886-4311 or email rhonda@goals-setx.com

To make a donation to United Way of Orange County, visit https://www.uwoctx.org/civicrm/contribute/transact?reset=1&id=1