Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley

Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley is a community-based literacy organization that offers adults the opportunity to gain the skills they need to make a better life for themselves and their families.  We do this by taking the time to understand the unique needs of each learner and tailoring our services specifically to them.   Using real-world applications to teach our students, we help them better retain their skills, empowering them to achieve their personal goals.  Our free services not only help the learners and their families, they enrich the entire Chippewa Valley community.

Bremer Bank officials Michelle Heinzen, Kristin Gildenzopf, and Mai Nou Hang
present a
check to Literacy Volunteers staff, students, and tutors July 9th at the LVCV office.

Otto Bremer Foundation Supports Literacy

Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley is pleased to announce that we have recently received a grant from the Otto Bremer Foundation. The Bremer Foundation is generously supporting LVCV’s general operations with a grant of $115,000. The grant will be used to implement the strategic planning initiatives that were established by the organization last year.

The Otto Bremer Foundation supports work important to the communities that are homes to Bremer banks. They strive to help build healthy, vibrant communities—places where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone’s reach. They give highest priority to opportunities with potential to move a community forward in meaningful, powerful and broad-based ways. In 2014 the Foundation provided 679 grants totaling approximately $42 million.

Family Literacy Program 2014-2015 Parent Education Report

Family Literacy offers a full range of learning and activities for families participating in the program. When a family joins the program, they not only improve their literacy skills but also learn more about the American culture. While the adults are learning, the children participate in structured early childhood education.

The Family Literacy Program concluded the 2014-2015 school year in June. This year our families included four children at home, 28 attending Family Lit Birth to 3 class, 17 in Head Start, 60 in elementary school, 15 in middle school, and 14 in high school.
Some of the parent education projects that were completed this school year:


  • Parents learned how to participate in fall conferences, vocabulary about conferences and what to expect at conferences.  Staff attended several conferences with parents who needed help. Our teachers also worked with their students to complete goal-setting forms, setting goals for their children, and preparing them to discuss the goals with their child’s teacher.
  • Parents were provided with letters that they could give to teachers suggesting they contact the Family Lit Staff if assistance was needed with communication. We also sent letters to elementary teachers, telling them parents are in Family Literacy and how to contact us if they need help to communicate
  • Staff taught math vocabulary to parents of second graders to help them comprehend the new math curriculum.
  • Staff taught beginning parents how to understand the school calendar.
  • Beginners learned about notes that teachers send home from class and how to respond.  
  • Parents learned about elementary school folders, how to use them, what to sign, how to check backpacks, and how to sign the folder every night. 
  • Beginners learned about the U.S. school system, what age children are eligible for Head Start, how schools are structured (elementary, middle, high school), that attending school is mandatory, and about the technical college and university
  • Parents of children going into kindergarten were helped with getting forms and completing them.  


  • Teachers gave students ideas for free or inexpensive things to do with their children during the summer.
  • Teacher provided students with ideas of games to play with children of different ages. 
  • Staff gave parents information about the Wisconsin Youth Sports summer program at UWEC.
  • Books were sent home with parents to read over the summer with their children
  • Parents were informed about the Eau Claire Area School District’s bike rodeo and were encouraged to attend. 

Health & Community:

  • Beginners learned what to bring with children to daycare, and when to keep them at home because of illness
  • Beginners were taught how to know when to take their children to the doctor, immunizations, etc. 
  • We taught parents how to read books to their children and what ages should use picture books, board books, etc. 
  • Parents and children went on a field trip to the public library. Parents learned how to use the children’s section of the public library, how to fill out the form to apply for a library card and then participated in a parent/child group which encourages reading.
  • Staff helped parents how to use behavior modification charts with elementary age children who were having trouble in school. 
  • We taught some parents how to set up routines for their children to help with issues such as bedtime. 
  • Parents borrowed books from our book cart and read them to their children.
  • We established an area designated as “free”, so parents could take advantage of  donations  (books, games, clothes, snacks, etc.)

Literacy Volunteers Celebrate the Stars of Literacy

Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley held its annual Celebration of the Stars on Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at Lake Street United Methodist Church.  Over 90 tutors, students, and supporters attended this important event recognizing 35 students for their important literacy accomplishments at Family Literacy and Pair Tutoring/Open Learning.

Special Tutor Awards were presented to volunteers who reached milestones for years of service in time working with students: 
Five Years of Service
Linda Aaseng
Sara Armstrong
Emma Brockman
Chuck Gorecki
Lori Johnson
10 Years of Service
Ruth Crouse
Toni Janssen
Bob Langer
Dave Martineau
Jim Oliver
Luanne Shea
Jackie Young
15 Years of Service
Sheila Sorenson
Yvonne Zwiefelhofer
The recently published 2015 Celebrate Writing book was also released at Celebration of the Stars.  This year’s theme was entitled “What are you Reading?”, and contained stories written by LVCV Adult Learners.  Eight students read their entries to those in attendance. You can receive a copy of the book by stopping at a Literacy Volunteers office.  New this year -- you can also read the book online.
During the program, Executive Director MaryJo VanGompel said that some of her closest friends in school were formed over the question of “What are you reading?”  Sharing the love of a book builds a bond between people of all ages, ethnicities and religions. She challenged students with a quote from Dr. Suess, “’The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.’  Go forth and learn!”

The Celebration of the Stars was made possible in part by prize donations from the Eau Claire County Community Service Program, Cascades, Boys & Girls Club of the Chippewa Valley, and Dollar General.  For more information, see our website at


Welcome To New LVCV Board Members

Literacy Volunteers is pleased to announce the approval of six new board members who will join the Board of Directors on July 1st.   The new board members are Carlton Brumbelow, Drew Duggan, Dr. Mary Ann Hardeback, Lisa Patrow, Allyson Loomis and Keena Mohr. Here is a snapshot of each of them:

Carlton Brumbelow moved to the Chippewa Valley three years ago to be part of JAMF Software. Prior to that, he was a web developer in Missouri and also served in the Navy as a Hebrew linguist.  “As a father of three boys, two of whom have IEPs for their reading skills, the LVCV is the first organization locally, outside of JAMF, with which I’ve been really excited to become involved,” Carlton said. “I want to help others get the help that my children receive from the programs they’re involved with in school, and I believe being involved with the LVCV board is the best way I can help.” We welcome Carlton and are pleased to have his personal experience and passion on the board.

Drew Duggan is the international support manager at JAMF, and has worked there in various capacities for four years. Drew comes from a family who has long been involved in community service and a long line of educators. “I’ve been taught how paramount reading is to the continued acquisition of knowledge and understanding of the world around us,” Drew said. “It would be an honor to help the people of the Chippewa Valley who want to improve their own literacy,” and it is an honor for LVCV to have Drew serve on the board.

Dr. Mary Ann Hardeback, superintendent of the Eau Claire School District, also joins the LVCV board. She began her career as an educator in Virginia and New York. She has also worked as a reading specialist, department chair, gifted coordinator, assistant principal, high school principal, and as assistant superintendent. Dr. Hardeback said that her focus is the integration of sound instructional practices to improve student achievement.    Her expertise in the management of resources and developing the capacity of staff to meet the needs of a growing school system will be extremely beneficial to the Literacy Volunteers organization.

Lisa Patrow is a philanthropy specialist for the Friends of Sacred Heart Hospital.  Patrow began her role in June 2014. She has more than 20 years of media experience and is a lifelong resident of the Chippewa Valley. After seven years in radio, Lisa made the switch to television becoming an anchor at WQOW, new director in 2003 and station manager in 2009. Lisa is an avid reader and firmly believes in the work of Literacy Volunteers.  We look forward to having her many talents on the board.

Allyson Loomis specializes in teaching creative writing and contemporary literature at UW-Eau Claire. In addition to degrees in Creative Writing, English Literature and Philosophy, Allyson is also a published writer.  Her own work has been published in numerous magazines and she has been granted awards for her work.  “I am pleased to join the Board,” Allyson said, “since I can’t imagine any better gift to give a person, aside from an education. My hope is that I can be useful to Literacy Volunteers in all the regular ways, and that I may serve as a liaison between LVCV and the university community.” LVCV looks forward to working more closely with the universities via Allyson.

Keena Mohr is the marketing manager at Eau Claire Ford, where she handles all the traditional, digital and social media marketing. Her family has always been in the car business, and she moved to Eau Claire in 2003 when her family purchased Eau Claire Ford.  Keena said that she is interested in serving on the LVCV Board of Directors because she “wants to help people though Literacy Volunteers, so they can experience endless opportunities and the freedom to do what they want and be who they want.”  LVCV welcomes Keena and the enthusiasm she brings to the board.

Please join LVCV in making all the new board members feel welcome. 

View the ScrabbleBee 2015 photos. 

What is Health Literacy?

By MaryJo VanGompel, Executive Director

Which of the following is the strongest predictor of an individual’s health status?
  • Age
  • Income
  • Literacy skills
  • Employment status
  • Education level
  • Racial or ethnic group
If you picked “C” you would be correct.

Every day, people confront situations that involve life-changing decisions about their health. These decisions are made in the grocery or drug store, workplaces, doctors’ offices, clinics/hospitals, and around the kitchen table. Only some of these decisions are made when patients and their health care providers are face-to-face.  Many more are made when people are on their own and dealing with unfamiliar and complex information. For example, they must figure out what type of health insurance they should choose, how much medicine to give a sick child, or how to use the directions printed on a box.

I was fortunate enough to receive a scholarship to attend the sixth biennial Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit in Madison, Wisconsin several weeks ago along with 400 health and literacy professionals from around the world.  I was surrounded by doctors, nurses, public and community health educators, pharmacists and literacy executives all talking about one thing—health literacy.

Keynote speaker Dr. Rima Rudd, senior lecturer from the Harvard School of Public Health, said that people need information they can understand and use to make informed decisions to protect and promote their health. Decades of research indicate that today’s health information is presented in a way that isn’t usable by the average adult. Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in our health care facilities, retail outlets, media, and communities.

Rudd said that the definition of health literacy has evolved over the years.  In 2004, the Institute of Medicine defined health literacy as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic information and services needed to make appropriate decisions regarding their health.”  Rudd facilitated a panel discussion of leaders from diverse health settings/disciplines to share insights on the question, “What is the effect of limited health literacy in your field?”

  • Poorer health knowledge
  • Poorer health status·        
  • Higher mortality
  • Increased hospital use
  • Increased Emergency Department use
  • Use of preventive services
  • Chronic health care
  • Tobacco use
  • Understanding Rx bottles
  • Non-compliance
What role do you feel your field has in improving health literacy?

Panelists agreed that the responsibility is ours as health professionals to communicate in plain language. Without clear communication, we cannot expect people to adopt the healthy behaviors and recommendations that we champion. When people receive accurate, easy-to-use information about a health issue, they are better able to take action to protect and promote their health and wellness.

The two-day conference was an amazing experience.  I walked away from the conference with a wealth of new information, new resources and wonderful connections.

Read our latest newsletter online.
Read the Letter to Supporters in Response to the United Way Funding Changes in February 2015 Newsletter.
View 2013-2014 Annual Report
Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley 2013-2014 Annual Report is available.  Read it online

Spanish Speakers Phone Line and Poster

Spanish speakers are the fastest growing immigrant population in the Chippewa Valley. Our latest outreach efforts have dedicated a Spanish phone line at LVCV and displayed new posters in Mexican restaurants and grocery stores in Eau Claire. If you know a Spanish speaking adult who wants to learn or improve English, offer our Spanish line (715-456-3155) and a Spanish speaker will return calls promptly. You may also direct them to our Facebook page.