The Decoder – January 2015

Quietly Making a Big Difference


 “Connecting people with the resources they need to succeed in life drives me to do this job! I can’t imagine anyone not having the tools they need to succeed in life. That is why community-based literacy is so important!”

Sharon Crowley’s passion for her community is undeniable. For over 30 years she’s been serving the people of Langley in one way or another. A committed volunteer, she says simply: “it’s in my blood to help others.” What’s also in her blood is a deep-rooted passion for literacy and learning, which makes her a great champion.

A proud mother of three, Sharon raised her children to value learning. “I can’t imagine someone not having the tools they need to succeed in life…that’s why literacy has always been an important part of our family.” In fact, visit the Crowley house during family dinners and you’ll likely find one or several of her six grandchildren sitting on a lap, taking in a story…or three.

Sharon began her career as an early childhood educator – a job that she still does today. For the past several years, she’s taken her passion for literacy into her community, where she’s been a force in driving literacy and learning initiatives. Sharon is currently the Literacy Outreach Coordinator in Abbotsford; previously she served the community of Langley in the same capacity.

Sharon goes about her work with one thing in mind – helping others. “Connecting people with the tools and resources they need to succeed in life drives me to do this job,” she says. And what a job she’s doing!

Over the years, Sharon has helped bridge the gap between those who need support and those who can provide it – she’s been especially influential when it comes to serving the Aboriginal communities. Sharon founded the Langley Literacy Association; brought the Canadian Diabetes Food Skills for Families program to Matsqui First Nation; and started the Langley Community Reading Challenge. These are just a few of the things she’s accomplished to help the people in her community.

Humble and unassuming, Sharon doesn’t like to talk about herself or her accomplishments, but there’s one project that stands above all. She’ll tell you it’s one of her proudest moments as a literacy practitioner. “When we opened the Ray and Millie Silver Library at the Community Aboriginal Centre, I felt an incredible amount of satisfaction and joy, because the library does not just impact one person.”

Sharon’s feelings on the library sum up her philosophy on community literacy, “…it’s not about one person – it’s about a community coming together to make a difference and affect change.”

This January, you can see the impact she has on her community during Family Literacy Week. Sharon has been instrumental in bringing groups and people together to run the Third Annual Community Reading Challenge (Jan 25 – Feb 14), which will kick off with a community pancake breakfast.

Sharon is not alone. There are 102 Literacy Outreach Coordinators in communities across B.C. who bring the same passion, drive and spirit to improving literacy and learning.


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