Last night I attended a dinner celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Literacy Volunteers of Bangor, an organization that provides free basic literacy and English language instruction to adults, families, and the local prison population. The evening featured talks by tutors and students, and even Governor Baldacci showed up.
Why volunteer to teach an adult to read and write? Imagine not being able to read the labels on your medication, the terms of your lease, a ballot, or a note from your child's teacher. Low literacy impacts a person's ability to make healthcare and financial decisions and obtain employment, and parents who don't read or write often pass these struggles on to their children. The problem is more common than you think: low literacy impacts 1 in 5 Mainers.
If you can read, write, and spare two hours a week, you can tutor. You don't have to be a teacher, Literacy Volunteers will train you. I'm on the basic literacy training team for Bangor, so if you want to talk reading comprehension, I'm your gal. For locations of Literacy Volunteers programming in other parts of the state, see Literacy Volunteers of Maine. For programs in other states and around the world, see ProLiteracy.
For last night's pot-luck, I brought the Corn and Edamame-Sesame Salad from Veganomicon and some veganized Mrs. Fields oatmeal-pecan cookies.
I figured there'd be little else for me to eat, so I was thrilled to find tabbouleh and several types of bean salad. Those international students really know how to cook!
Nobody asked for my recipes, but if they had, I could have given them this:
adapted from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup quick oats
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) Earth Balance vegan margarine, softened
2 tablespoons ground flax seed
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup chocolate chips
36 pecan halves (optional)
Preheat oven to 300F.
In a medium bowl combine flour, soda, salt, and oats.
In a large bowl blend sugars with an electric mixer at medium speed. Add margarine and mix to form a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add flax seed, water, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Add the flour mixture, pecans, and chocolate chips, and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon. Do not overmix.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. If desired, press a pecan half into each cookie. Bake for 22-24 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies to a cooling rack.
Makes 3 dozen.