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Literacy Center student, Hope Warren, reaches for her dreams and becomes a role model

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Warren and Tolliver meet at the Van Belkum Library every week.

Warren and Tolliver meet at the Van Belkum Library every week. /Lindsay McHolme

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By Lindsay McHolme

Having dropped out of Grand Rapids Central High School  before graduation, Hope Warren, now 25 years old, is doing everything in her power to turn her life around for herself and to be a role model for her seven year old son, Robert.  Warren is currently enrolled in high school completion classes through Grand Rapids Public Schools and attends tutoring sessions once a week with her Literacy Center tutor and friend, Lauren Tolliver.

It has been a long, hard road, but Warren is making noticeable progress.  Throughout her one and a half years with the Adult Tutoring Program, she has improved her reading by an astounding six grade levels, and has reached many of her goals, including publishing a story in The Reader: Student and Tutor Newsletter.

As she reflects on her journey, Warren mentions ways in which her life has changed:

"I can go to the store by myself.  Lauren helped me with the reading things of shopping.  I'm driving now and it's good because I can read signs.  I can read my own mail.  I was just talking to my mom today and I was reading her light bill for her.  She said, 'Wow, you're getting really good at this.'"

Not only has Warren become more independent through her improved literacy skills, but her son's life has changed for the better as well.  Since working with Tolliver, Warren has spent more time reading Clifford the Big Red Dog and Berenstain Bears books with Robert.  He is enrolled in the LOOP program, and Warren is in close contact with his teachers.

During their tutoring sessions at Van Belkum Library, Tolliver encouraged Warren to write a children's book for Robert.  They spent weeks typing Robert the Rabbit and stapling it together, and then Warren took it home for Robert to color and draw in.  Now he aspires to write a book for his own kids when he is a father someday.

"I'm so proud of her.  That's just so neat to see," says Tolliver of Warren's accomplishments.

Warren expects to receive her high school completion certificate this winter, and then go on to college. She aspires to use her experiences to help others.  She dreams of becoming a counselor for teens:

"I want to work with teens because that's when I started getting into a lot of stuff, and I want to talk to them before they get to that point."

Like Lauren Tolliver, you can make a difference in our community by volunteering your time to tutor an adult in reading or English skills.  Literacy Center tutors are provided with free training, a tutoring plan, books, and on-going support.  If you are interested in tutoring a motivated adult student like Hope Warren, please call the Literacy Center of West Michigan today at 459-5151. 

For more information about the Adult Tutoring Program, visit the website or read Hope Warren's article in The Reader: Student and Tutor Newsletter.

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Great article Lindsay.  I am definitely glad to be involved with the Literacy Center.  I hope more people are able to devote some time to what is truly a rewarding experience.