Lane partner, PCLC Founder and life board member
As a founding member, Lane Partner has been involved with the Perry County Literacy Council since its beginning. It all started with a small group of volunteers who had a goal of teaching adults basic reading skills. Lane says PCLC has grown and evolved beyond anything she could have imagined.
“My reasons for volunteering have changed over the years, but what has remained constant is that it takes a combination of dedicated staff, a strong volunteer base, and local financial support to help adult students reach their goals. Government funding is essential but often does not allow for the time frame and the individual needs of adult students. The Council has been able to use volunteers and local funding so it can serve all students at their own pace at no cost.
I am truly inspired by the Literacy Council's amazing staff and want to do what I can to support them. I have worked in social service agencies all of my life and this is a unique organization and staff that truly care about each student and will do whatever it takes for as long as it takes to help them meet their goals. GEDs and job training are important but helping students gain confidence and maturity and recognize their potential is life changing.
It's been a lot of fun, a lot of work, and I've made wonderful life long friendships!”
Ivy Berry, EDSI Program Manager
Ivy Berry serves as Program Manager for both the EDSI EARN welfare-to-work program and the WIOA in Perry, Cumberland, and Juniata Counties. She and her staff at PCLC offer employment and training services to individuals experiencing various barriers to successful employment, such as public assistance, layoffs, lack of self-supporting income, or lack of education.
Ivy takes great pride in helping her clients surpass their personal barriers to reach their goals. “To be able to change people’s attitudes and spirits and improve their self-esteem, to allow them to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining—it really is a joy to see,” she says. “And knowing that it not only impacts them as individuals but the families that they’re representing also—that’s the reward of the job.”
“Being able to link up shoulder to shoulder, hand to hand with [my staff and partners] to help people in our community—that’s what I do. That’s what I enjoy. That’s what I’m here for.”
Sylvia Beiler, GED graduate
Sylvia Beiler was born and raised in the Amish community for the first 20 years of her life and attended formal schooling only until 8th grade. She dreamed of going to college as a teenager, but never imagined it would be possible.
She is currently a sophomore at Messiah College studying International Business.
“The Perry County Literacy Council helped me get my GED and then with my first steps in pursuing higher education. The people are very helpful and always encouraging. I have since gone on to college and I am learning so much! Not only am I learning about the subjects in my major, but many things that apply to everyday life.”
will justiniano, GED Graduate
When Will Justiniano lived in New York City, he was told that the opportunities were endless in the big city. He found it ironic that he found many more opportunites when he relocated to the tiny town of Newport and found the Perry County Literacy Council. Will says he felt right at home the moment he took a seat in Dawn Beaver’s class. Although he never imagined that he would be successful getting his GED, but he did just that in May 2019.
I’m grateful for a teacher who I now consider a friend. Ms. Dawn pushed me and told me that I could do it, even when I felt that I couldn’t. I thank Ms. Dawn and PCLC for everything they’ve done — not just for me, but for every single person who walks through their door.”
Will is working with PCLC’s partner EDSI to explore opportunities to start college.
“PCLC’s staff is full of amazing people. [This work] is more than a job to the PCLC staff; it’s a way of life.”
Anne Chappelka, PCLC life board member
Almost immediately upon moving to Perry County, Anne saw Perry County Literacy Council in action at a book sale in New Bloomfield Day. PCLC was a struggling organization trying to raise funds which could be dedicated to the teach reading to Perry County residents.
“Thinking nothing could be more important, I joined this group of volunteers, spearheaded by Lane Partner who co-founded the Council and has never ceased efforts on its behalf. That was 1993, which coincided with the arrival of director Carol Steiner and lead ultimately to the amazing organization that now serves as a model for what can be accomplished for so many.
So much needed to be done along the way, such wonderful people were working together for something so important, the work was rewarding, and it was fun! Walking into the office today it still feels that way, especially with Kathy Bentley and Leslie Heimbaugh in charge. Now, I have "aged out" of active involvement, feeling I had given what I had to offer and it was time to move over. My current joy is seeing all the new people who have brought new ideas and effort to the PCLC and made it more than I ever could have imagined.”
Josh Weaver, GED graduate and Linda Andrews, Pclc tutor
After dropping out of school in the tenth grade, Josh Weaver admits that he “got into some things [he] shouldn’t have” over the next several years, but was determined to make a positive change in his life. He spoke with a friend who had earned her GED® from Perry County Literacy Council, and with encouragement from his wife, Ashley, he ultimately decided it was time for him to do the same. He began attending classes at PCLC in late 2016—not long before Linda Andrews joined the organization as a tutor.
It wasn’t long before Josh was paired with Linda for help passing his HiSET® exam. The writing portion of the test came first—Linda encouraged Josh to write about his own life experiences, though Josh was hesitant at first to share his life story with a relative stranger, fearing she would “know too much about [him].” However, they gradually grew more comfortable together and began mutually pushing one another to succeed.
“I had an awesome tutor,” Josh says. “I don’t think there was a dull moment between us two…I had a good thing going from day one, but when I met [Linda] and was working with her…I got it.”
Once Josh had passed the writing and language arts tests, the time came for him to take the math exam. He insisted on working with Linda; however, Linda was not well-versed in higher-level math. As she recalls: “I said to him, ‘You need another tutor. I would be doing you a disservice if I kept on going…that algebra looks like Greek to me!’ And he said, ‘Well, we’ll learn it together!’”
Linda’s sons encouraged her to take free classes on the Kahn Academy website, where, all told, she spent at least 100 hours studying to tutor Josh in math. In addition, Josh drew from his experience as a construction worker to solve problems involving ratios, conversions and measurements. With Linda’s help, Josh passed his HiSET® and obtained his GED® over the span of nine months.
“Josh was a pleasure...He wanted to get this done and he was determined to do the best that he could do.” – Linda Andrews
Rep. Mark Keller
Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Keller has been involved with PCLC almost since the organization’s inception, when staffer Lane Partner reached out to him for help. Rep. Keller has since become one of PCLC’s most ardent advocates. He’s participated in a number of fundraising events, most notably in the function of auctioneer for the Race for Reading live auction.
Rep. Keller frequently expresses his deep gratitude for being able to help what he calls a “tremendous” organization: “I’ve gotten to see the good [PCLC] does firsthand. What it does is save taxpayer money. People are working; they’re contributing to the economy instead of looking for government handouts. They’re becoming self-sufficient.”
As a prominent PA state legislator, Rep. Keller is keenly aware of the importance of literacy. “Regardless of what you do or where you are, you need to be literate to progress in the world today. [PCLC] helps those having difficulties…become productive citizens.”
Eduardo Madera, customer service graduate
Ed Madera found about PCLC from the public assistance office in Juniata County, which he learned could offer him help with resume writing and job training. Ed, who was unemployed at the time, recalls having trouble figuring out what kind of career would fit him best.
“Even though I’ve had different types of jobs in my life, I was never given any type of exam or anything like that where it told me what I would be better at doing,” he says. “[Taking PCLC’s exam] pretty much reinforced what I already knew, but it’s nice to see that there’s a method to the madness of figuring out what people are good at.”
Ed met with PCLC’s staff, who he says were quick to assist him: “[They] were very friendly and they were there to listen to what…my personal needs were, because everyone obviously has different needs…so that was really helpful. And it also helped me feel comfortable expressing myself to them and letting them know how best to help me.”
Ed quickly enrolled in PCLC’s customer service course, which reinforced numerous crucial points he had learned in his previous customer service experience—particularly, the importance of first impressions and helping customers feel at ease.
“I don’t think I would be successful if it wasn’t for [PCLC],” he says. [They] were very supportive—not only…helping me write my resume, helping me take the proper training that I needed…but they were also there to listen to me as a person, and to me, that goes beyond.”
“You are a person; they treat you as a person. And—each person matters to them, and they try to get you to the point where you can utilize your skills.”
Carol Moyer, EDsi program manager
A former youth case manager, Carol Moyer has worked with adults and out-of-school youth for nearly a decade—most recently in the capacity of EDSI Program Manager. The people for whom she provides assistance often have experienced significant life barriers—for instance, a need for job training, a driver’s license or a GED. She currently shares an office with PCLC and cites working in tandem with them as one of the most positive experiences of her life.
“Because of [Kathy Bentley’s] knowledge, I have learned so much on how to work with people,” she says. “The people—they make this work. Everybody is a team, and you can count on people to help you if you need it. You just know when you come here it’s a different kind of a place.”
“We always have a plan for each individual…so whatever they need, that’s what we’re gonna try to give them,” says Carol. “We’re always open to new ideas, so if any new situation comes along, we embrace it instead of trying to get rid of it…We may have to talk to each other how to figure it out, but there’s something out there somewhere, even if it isn’t us, that can help.”
Lyndsey Wilson, EDSI Businesses Services rep
Lyndsey Wilson is the Business Services Rep for EDSI in Juniata and Perry Counties. She works with the adult, youth and the local businesses in the community to review new business opportunities, recruit potential participants and to place customers into employment/training activities, such as individual training, apprenticeships, internships and on-the-job training opportunities.
“When I started my new career with EDSI, I was welcomed to the Perry County Literacy Council and I immediately recognized that the staff exudes dedication, passion and guidance to their customers. We all work together to help everyone who walks through that door help with whatever barrier that may arise in their life — whatever is keeping them from reaching their full potential.”
“I am extremely proud and honored to be a part of a group that has such high values and sees success through their client’s success.”
Cali Beasom, ged student and Lance Laird, pclc board member and tutor
Cali and Lance had been working together for about a year on Math, Cali’s roughest subject. She has now passed Math and has moved on and only has two more tests before she will earn her high school equivalency diploma.
“This is going to sound crazy – but I feel like I have a little bit more of a purpose. And I never realized that I do like math and I’ve learned that I’m actually pretty good at it. The way I look at math is…it’s like a puzzle to be solved and I love doing it! It challenges me and it’s nice to know I
can do it.” —Cali Beasom
Lance is a PCLC Board Member and a tutor at PCLC. He also volunteers to help with the VITA Tax Preparation program that is offered at PCLC
during tax season.
“I definitely needed something to do — that’s number one. I enjoy being around people and I was becoming isolated at home since I retired. I felt
like I should give back—I think everyone should try to do that. Also, it’s really good for older people like me – for your mind, to do math and
think on your feet.” —Lance Laird