In 1975, an International Symposium for Literacy was held in Persepolis, Iran. As a result, the Declaration of Persepolis was adopted as a charter by literacy workers throughout the world. It states: “Literacy is not an end in itself. It is a fundamental human right.”
Following this international conference, an increased awareness of the problem of functional illiteracy within Canada began to grow. The need for a one-on-one volunteer-based adult literacy tutoring program for the Ottawa region was recognized by an inter-divisional research team from Algonquin College, and in 1978 People, Words & Change (PWC) was formed.
Algonquin College offered extensive practical and financial support to PWC until 1986, when PWC became separately incorporated. From the beginning, PWC has also received support from several sources, including volunteers, individuals, corporations, school boards, private foundations, fundraising activities, bingo and municipal, provincial, and federal governments.
Over the years some of the faces have changed and our offices have moved several times, but the fundamental work of the organization has not wavered from its mission.
People, Words & Change is a member of:
Dee Sullivan – Executive Director & Education Counsellor
“I joined the People, Words & Change team in the fall of 2007. Prior to joining PWC, I taught English as a Second Language to new immigrants to Canada in Ottawa area LINC Programs. Helping adults achieve their language and literacy goals, whether English is their first or second language, is incredibly inspiring and rewarding. Doing this in a friendly, positive, and dynamic work environment makes PWC a pleasure to come to every day!”
Karen Hilderman – Education Counsellor
“I have been involved in adult education since 1998 teaching LINC and Citizenship Test Preparation to newcomers to Canada as well as holding a Co-ordination role for an ESL Literacy Program. I love languages and teaching; combining the two while helping adults achieve their goals and upgrade their skills is rewarding and the perfect fit. I am excited to be working with PWC and helping our learners improve their literacy skills for work, school, and independence.”
Shaniece Martin – Computer Instructor
“I am a recent graduate with a diverse education background in Psychology and Teaching English as a Second Language. I have recent experiences teaching English as a Second Language to newcomers to Canada. My previous experiences assisting individuals with navigating online forms during lockdowns has fueled my interest in teaching digital literacy. I am excited to be working with People, Words & Change to provide essential skills to new learners in a positive environment.”
Volunteer tutors form the backbone of our organization. Approximately 130 people volunteer for PWC each year. Some of our volunteers are retired, but most are still involved with careers and families! Many of our volunteers have been with us for 5, 10, 15 or even more years and have worked with learner after learner after learner!
Some of our volunteers sit on our Board of Directors, and as well as providing excellent support, share their professional skills in areas like accounting, law and fundraising.
Since our inception in 1978, more than 3,500 people have volunteered with us! A very conservative estimate calculates that together, our PWC tutors have spent at least 10,000 hours teaching other adults to read and write.
We are committed to increasing the number of learners we can help and are always looking for new, qualified volunteers to either conduct one-on-one tutoring, or to volunteer in our computer lab.
Board of Directors
Our board of directors consists of 8 -10 members elected at our Annual General Meeting in June. The board in turn elects its own executive members, and appoints a treasurer. The board meets about ten times a year, and is responsible for the legal and financial aspects of running a non-profit organization. Volunteers interested in becoming board members can contact Dee, who will put them in touch with one of the directors for further information.
The directors for 2022 – 2023 are:
Margaret MacDonald – President
Rhonda Birenbaum – Vice President
André Savary – Secretary
Lynn Hemmings – Treasurer
Leith de Tracey
Dee Sullivan – Staff Representative
We welcome all tutors and learners who wish to become members of PWC. Please ask the staff at the PWC office to provide you with our very short application form. Once completed, you will become a voting member of the organization, and welcome to take an active role in our work. Members are entitled to receive notice of, attend and vote at all meetings of the membership. There are no dues and you are welcome to retain your membership as long as you wish, at the discretion of the PWC Board.
- Accessible Customer Service Policy
- Code of Conduct
- Digital Technology Policy for Staff, Volunteer Tutors and Learners
- Harassment Policy
- Heartwood House COVID-19 Priority Safety Measures – New Measures effective March 21, 2022
- Non-Discrimination Policy
- Public Health: Reducing Risks of Bed Bugs and Lice
- Smoking/Recreational Marijuana and Alcohol Policy
- Social Media Policy