TURLOCK -- The homeless in Turlock soon will have access to free literacy and GED programs thanks to the coming together of three community organizations.
For the past several months, the Turlock Gospel Mission Homeless Assistance Ministry has been working with the Stanislaus Literacy Center to begin a tutoring program. The mission helps about 1,200 homeless people each month, and more than two-thirds have said they would like literacy or GED help, Turlock Gospel Mission Ministry Administrator Cindy Noah.
But first, the mission needed new computers. So, in came the Turlock Rotary Club with six computers.
"We are so jazzed to have this start and so our are guests," Noah said. "It'll be awesome once it starts."
The computers were installed last weekend. They will be used for literacy software programs and GED testing support.
Turlock Rotary Club President Ron Hillberg said the group, which has worked with the Turlock Gospel Mission in the past, was happy to help as part of its annual Rotary Foundation matching grant program. The group raised more than $1,200 through donations and then had it matched to provide $3,300 worth of computers and installation.
"We knew they were a good local program and would get good use out of the computers," Hillberg said. "I've been very impressed with the progress (the Turlock Gospel Mission) has made. They keep moving forward with expanding their programs. They've just really been an impressive organization in terms of filling a critical need in our community."
Since opening five years ago, the Turlock Gospel Mission has provided a range of services and resources to the homeless in the area. Noah said it helps an average of 33 people a day with everything from health needs to counseling services, rehabilitation assistance and housing resources. The group also operates a winter shelter for women and children.
Need is apparent
Noah said about 70 percent of the mission's surveyed guests have expressed an interest in tutoring. But she said even without asking, the staff knew there was a need.
"Our guests are asked to sign in each evening to read and sign things while going through the intake process," she said. "But many of them couldn't. So we knew, just by observation, it was important."
Noah said it should have the literacy program running within a month. The mission is coordinating with the literacy center to identify the need and organize volunteers.
Karen Williams, executive director of the Stanislaus Literacy Center, said the logistics are being worked out. She said the program will need five to 10 volunteer tutors for the literacy and GED programs.
This will be the first serv-ices the group has provided specifically to the homeless population. The center has offered general GED and literacy tutoring in Turlock for a number of years.
"This is our first dip of the toe into the waters," Williams said. "We did it because it's a great opportunity to see if we can make this work."
For more, call the Stanislaus Literacy Center at (209) 522-0656 or the Turlock Gospel Mission at (209) 656-1033.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284.