Karen: Reaching Academic Goals and Recognizing Self Worth

Karen’s story was shared with us by our friends at the Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society.

Karen is a 47-year-old resident of Fort Nelson. She lives with her husband David and their two small dogs. David is permanently off work due to serious health problems, and Karen herself lives with medical and mental health issues. She has four adult children, is a committed member of her church and began coming to the Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society’s learning centre in 2012.

Karen’s life has been tumultuous. She had a difficult upbringing and struggled with mental health issues and addictions for many years. She found herself in adulthood as a mother of small children with low literacy skills and no real support system. At one point in time, she had to give up one of her children for adoption as she could not care for her. Karen worked various jobs, making what little money she could and doing the best she could, given her circumstances.

Once her children were grown, Karen decided to reach out for help, getting counselling for her mental health issues and battling her addictions. She soon realized that she wanted to obtain an education. Her sense of self-worth, which was non-existent before, began as a small spark within her. Karen decided to take some courses at her local community college and to set some learning goals for herself.

In the beginning, Karen’s reading and writing levels were low. She was struggling with her course work and was dismayed with her lack of progress. In addition, she experienced anxiety in the formal classroom setting. She was also having difficulty in relating to her classmates, socially. Karen felt that perhaps she wasn’t able to succeed academically, that it might not have been realistic for her to pursue her goals. As a result, she nearly gave up.

Fortunately, Karen had heard about the Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society. She decided that if she had extra support, she would be able to succeed. She made her way to the learning centre and was matched with a tutor. First, she worked on improving her reading and writing skills using the adult learning resources on hand. Once she got to a comfortable level, her tutor began helping her with course work. The two got to know each other very well throughout the next few years.

Karen not only accessed the help she needed to reach her academic goals herself – she also began to recognize her own self-worth for the very first time. Her tutor encouraged her to think positively about herself and to forgive herself of some painful moments in her past – something she had never been previously able to do.

Within a few years, Karen built her confidence and became a part of a learning community. The learning centre became a place where she felt she belonged – a place where she was always welcome and appreciated. Karen eventually took an ESL tutor training course and became a volunteer herself, helping newcomers to Canada with language and settlement.

Because of the support that Karen received from the Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society, she is now working for a local non-profit organization, where she continues to be an exemplary employee. At the organization, she has initiated a social enterprise project, which has been very successful.

Karen’s literacy journey has yet to be completed. She is engaged in meaningful community work and is currently working on attaining her counselling credentials. She wants to help others who are struggling, just as she herself has struggled. Karen maintains healthy relationships with her family and is still very much involved with Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society.

Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society impacts the lives of community members in profound ways. Each story is unique and each learning journey is different. Every day, people who never thought they could rise about their own barriers, do. Fort Nelson Community Literacy Society has succeeded in growing a community of learning in Fort Nelson.

As non-profit organizations, community-based literacy programs rely on your generosity to support literacy and learning initiatives in British Columbia.

Make a difference in your community. Please donate today.

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