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Volunteer Spotlight: Carol Gallegos

Carol Gallegos taught in the Eagle County School District for 31 years. When she retired in 2008, she missed the students and the interaction with young learners that she enjoyed so much. One summer, while she was still teaching at Edwards Elementary, Carol worked as a teacher with The Literacy Project’s English as a Second Language (ESL) program. “When I decided to volunteer after retirement, I was happy to know that Colleen Gray was still in charge of the Literacy Project,” said Carol. “I knew that tutoring for the Literacy Project was just what I wanted to do to continue my connection with education.”

For almost six years now she has done just that. Carol meets weekly with students at Berry Creek Middle School in Edwards through The Literacy Project’s “Study Friends” program. Through the Study Friends, Carol helps students with their homework, study skills, and all academic areas on a one-to-one basis. The rewards are plenty. “It’s a wonderful feeling when my students succeed in bringing up their grades or scoring well on a test or assignment,” said Carol. The experience has often been mutually beneficial: “I am surprised by how much my students know about the technology that is available to them,” said Carol “It is amazing how much information is at their fingertips and how they can access it. They have taught me a few things!”

Carol has had several study friends throughout her 6 years of volunteering with the program. When asked if any student in particular stands out to her, she fondly recalls Ricardo and his quest to learn cursive handwriting. “Ricardo was an 8th grader who wanted to learn to sign his name in cursive. We worked at it little by little at each tutoring session–getting the strokes down using an interactive computer program.” Eventually, Ricardo had a beautiful signature.” He has not forgotten what he learned from Carol: “I saw him recently and he was so happy to see me that he gave me a great big hug.” Ricardo graduated from Battle Mountain High School and is now serving in the military.

In addition to tutoring for Study Friends, Carol makes it a point to advocate on behalf of the good work that is happening with all of The Literacy Project’s programs. “When you know how to read and access information, you can learn anything,” said Carol. “I would like to spread the word to all schools and learners everywhere about the benefits the Literacy Project has to offer–not only to students, but also to tutors as well.”



Volunteer Spotlight: Ellen Miller

Ellen Miller (pictured here with Colleen Gray, Director of The Literacy Project) is an internationally renowned mountaineer with a gift for putting her unique talents to work for her community. She created The Climb for Literacy fundraiser in 2008 as a way for children to channel their passion for climbing into an event that would promote literacy, while also benefiting those less fortunate or reading challenged. Continue reading


Colorado Gives Day!

Colorado’s largest one-day online giving event, presented by Community First Foundation and FirstBank, is coming up and we need your support. On Tuesday, December 8, 2015, thousands of donors will come together to support Colorado nonprofits like The Literacy Project of Eagle County. Last year, a record-breaking $26.2 million was raised for Colorado nonprofits. A reminder of what your individual donation means to us:
• $100 provides initial training for one tutor
• $250 provides books for five students
• $500 educates one adult for one year
• $1,000 educates one family for one year

About Colorado Gives Day
Colorado Gives Day is powered by, a year-round website featuring more than 1,650 nonprofits. encourages charitable giving by providing comprehensive, objective and up-to-date information about Colorado nonprofits and an easy way to support them online.

$1 Million Incentive Fund
Thanks to Community First Foundation and First Bank, Colorado Gives Day features a $1 Million Incentive Fund, one of the largest gives-day incentive funds in the country. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of the Incentive Fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated.

Check out our donation page on

Give where you live on Colorado Gives Day. Your support helps us continue to empower Eagle Valley community members of all ages by offering free assistance in acquiring the literacy and English skills they need to function more effectively in their daily lives.

Throughout the month of November and leading up to December 8, donations can also be scheduled ahead of time. Thank you for your continuing support. Please contact us with any questions at 970.949.5026.

Colleen Gray


Volunteer Spotlight: Erik Forbes

Erik Forbes is a junior at Eagle Valley High School. He looks forward to a future in music and the arts, and loves to play the piano. He is a “Big Buddy” volunteer with The Literacy Project of Eagle County’s Reading Buddies program, where he not only enjoys reading with his Little Buddies—he challenges them to Soduku competitions.

A collaboration with the Eagle Valley Library District, Reading Buddies pairs teen volunteers (mentors in grades 9-12) with younger kids (students in grades 1-3) for an hour of one-on-one shared reading, once a week.

Over the course of eight weeks, Reading Buddy pairs read together, play reading-based games, and participate in group activities. The purpose of Reading Buddies is to provide a leadership and community service opportunity for the high school mentors, while helping to foster a love of reading in elementary school students.

“As a volunteer, I always try to get the Little Buddies engaged, which is the first step in any learning process,” said Erik. “At the Gypsum Library, our first session consists only of games–we all laugh and get to know each other.”

Erik grew up in Eagle County. He chose to volunteer with The Literacy Project because as he matured into high school, he gained a deeper understanding of how literacy impacts the future. “I also understand the consequences of not fostering the skill,” said Erik, “because I didn’t. I would not want my Little Buddy to make the same mistake I did.”

The heart of The Literacy Project’s life-long learning programs are the volunteer tutors that dedicate their time and energy to teach students in one-to-one tutoring, or group classes. Erik is only in is his first semester volunteering with the program, but the personal payoff has been immediate.

For Erik, one of the most rewarding things about Reading Buddies is observing his Little Buddy’s “aha” moments. A few weeks ago, he was working with his Buddy and made a conscious effort to go deeper into the learning opportunity. “He and I sat and dissected words like ‘balloon.’ You can obviously sound that out, but only to a certain point. [We] made a grammar chart and started to look deeper into the structure and phonetics of the word ‘balloon’ and what the double O sounds like. And like that, a light bulb went off!”

Erik chose to be a big buddy because he has experienced the impact of a mentor himself. His math teacher at EVHS, Greg Tibboel, has had a profound influence on Erik’s own style of learning. Once his worst subject, Erik is now thriving in his math class. “Tibboel says Math is not like your piano, Erik. Math is about understanding why and how to use the formula. You will not get better from muscle memory–you cannot re-do the same problem over and over.” Erik applies Mr. Tibboel’s advice to his own learning and teaching. “I have taken this to heart and have looked deeper into everything I do,” said Erik.


Volunteer Spotlight: Burt Levin

Burt Levin is a 4th generation attorney. He began his legal career in Maryland in 1983, and relocated to the Vail Valley in 1998. Burt is also a dedicated volunteer with The Literacy Project of Eagle County’s “Study Friends” program. The Study Friends Program is designed to help middle school students improve their reading, writing, math, and homework skills by pairing them with a trained adult volunteer tutor. Burt meets with his student weekly at Berry Creek Middle School.

“I help my student on his homework and also generally mentor him,” says Burt, who is now entering his 3rd academic year as a Study Friend. Like many volunteers who give back to the Eagle County community through The Literacy Project, Burt appreciates that volunteering is as much about personal growth as it is about providing support to a local student: “The most rewarding thing about being a Study Friend is establishing a personal relationship with the student that is based on mutual respect and mutual growth for both participants.”

When asked what literacy means to him, Burt translates the ability to read and speak well to personal freedom: “Literacy means an ability to get an education and get ahead in life. It also allows you to follow your interests and learn about what you want to learn about.”


Volunteer Spotlight: Kyle Diebel

Kyle Diebel is the Vice President of FirstBank Eagle County. He is also a dedicated volunteer with The Literacy Project of Eagle County’s “Study Friends” program. The Study Friends Program is designed to help middle school students improve their reading, writing, math, and homework skills by pairing them with a trained adult volunteer tutor. “As a volunteer with Study Friends I meet with my student weekly and work with them in any area they are finding difficult or challenging at school. We tend to focus on becoming more proficient at reading and also work to complete homework assignments. It’s not just work though–we do our best to get to know each other and have some fun while working.”

A Colorado native from Aurora, Diebel grew up exploring the mountains and all they had to offer. “I was presented with an opportunity to relocate to the Vail Valley for work from the Denver area and who could pass that up?” asked Diebel. “I consider myself lucky to live in this community where I can enjoy so many things I am passionate about–snowboarding, hiking, camping, and all that the mountain lifestyle has to offer right in my own backyard.”

The heart of The Literacy Project’s life-long learning programs are the volunteer tutors that dedicate their time and energy to teach students in one-to-one tutoring, or group classes. Diebel has just finished his first year volunteering with the program.

“I chose to volunteer with The Literacy Project to give back to a community that I feel offers so much to me. I was lucky enough to have outside influences in my childhood that had a great impact on my education. I realize how important it is to have support; not only from teachers and parents, but others in the community you live in while growing up.”

Over the course of the year, Diebel was most surprised at the wonderful sense of gratification he received personally as his Study Friend’s homework grades and test scores improved.

When asked what literacy means to him, Diebel sees the big picture: “Someone once described literacy to me as freedom, and I have interpreted it as such ever since. Literacy opens doors.”


Volunteer Spotlight: Jody Talbot

Jody Talbot brings passion to everything that she does—whether it be her 35 years in the travel industry, finding a fantastic cup of coffee, her early-morning Pilates practice, or her profound love of literacy.

“Literacy leads us to the pathway that opens doors,” said Talbot. “Be it learning, job possibilities, self-confidence, and the joy of reading. When you love to read you are never alone and never bored.”

The heart of The Literacy Project’s life-long learning programs are the volunteer tutors that dedicate their time and energy to teach students in one-to-one tutoring, or group classes. Jody Talbot has been a volunteer tutor with The Literacy Project for three years. She tutors middle school students in English at Berry Creek Middle School.

“I volunteer with The Literacy Project because I believe that a good education is of the utmost importance, and a gift that should be provided by our world. Hopefully I help my students in this pursuit.”

Talbot considers her responsibility to her students as one of the greatest rewards of her volunteer experience. On the other hand, she says, “I was pleasantly surprised to find my students allowed me to come into their lives so readily. I also was delighted with the help and involvement of the staff at Berry Creek Middle School.”

Talbot became a part of the Eagle Valley community in 1973. “I am from Michigan, the Mitten State. I came from a close family and decided to spread my wings. So I moved to Vail with a college roommate.” She has a long history of volunteerism in the area, and has given back to the community in many ways. In addition to serving as a tutor for The Literacy Project, Jody currently serves on the Board of the Swift Eagle Charitable Fund and is the President of the Friends of the Eagle Valley Library District.

“When I ponder my future, I hope to find myself still a part of The Literacy Project,” said Talbot. “This giving to others is my gift to me.”


New Tutor Resource! Notebook: Resources for the Adult Educator

Tutors–we now have subscription-based access to the online journal Notebook: Resources for the Adult Educator. Notebook is a 16-page resource designed especially for teachers and tutors. It is published three times per year as a benefit for ProLiteracy members. Each article in Notebook describes a ready-to-use teaching idea related to reading, writing, listening and speaking, numeracy, or a practical application of literacy skills such as making a budget. Most articles contain reading material and/or worksheets that can be photocopied for students to use. In some instances, additional worksheets are made available online for tutors and teachers who want to do additional work on the topic. Each issue also contains an inspirational story about a learner or an instructor as well as a resources section that lists events or links to other valuable teaching resources. Check out the 2015 spring issue HERE. Reference back issues HERE.

It is also posted on our RESOURCES page for future reference.


Show some Mother’s Day Love for Mom AND The Literacy Project!

Just a reminder–Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10, and there are several ways you can support The Literacy Project and gift mom something special. Purchase an exclusively made-for-us sterling silver Golden Bear bracelet for $75. The limited edition bracelet is presented in a velvet pouch from the Golden Bear. Call for details 970-949-5026.

And just a reminder that if you shop for that special gift online at and designate The Literacy Project as your charitable organization, Amazon will donate to Literacy Project. Use the link below and you will be directed to great Mother’s Day gift ideas in support of Literacy Project.

AmazonSmile Mother’s Day Link

And finally, a donation in Mom’s honor to The Literacy Project makes a great Mother’s Day gift (and if you’re reading this, surely she raised you to give back)! The gift of literacy is generational and has an impact on our entire community.

Happy Mother’s Day!