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.

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

View the photos from Celebration of the Stars 2015.


All Literacy Volunteers offices will be closed on Monday, May 25th in observance of Memorial Day.


Eat Bread to Raise Dough at Panera Bread

Panera Bread in Eau Claire will donate a percentage of its sales to Literacy Volunteers on June 4th from 4-8 p.m.  if you present the flyer. See the flyer for details.

ScrabbleBee Raises $40,000 for Literacy

The 14th Annual ScrabbleBee was the buzz of the valley April 23, raising $40,000 for Literacy Volunteers Chippewa Valley. There were 39 teams who strategized playing Scrabble to win prizes, bid on silent auction items, purchase raffle tickets, and have a honey of a good time. The teams filled the Sleep Inn Conference Center, Eau Claire. 
For the ScrabbleBee, teams of up to six players worked together to build words in the “Hare” and “Tortoise” divisions. Three timed games were played throughout the evening, and the team achieving the highest total for all three games was declared the winner. 

Here is the list of winners in all the categories.
Winning Scrabble Team - Hare division:
First place: Nestle
Second place: Weld, Riley, Prenn, & Ricci
Third place: Applied Data Consultants
Fourth place: HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital
Fifth place: Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC)

Winning Scrabble Team - Tortoise Division: Clearwater Kiwanis Club
Highest fundraising team: Luna’s Ladies

Top three individual fundraisers
First Place: Katherine Schneider 
Second Place: Joan Voigt
Third Place: Sheila Sorensen

Best Team Costume: Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) 

A special thank you to: Major Sponsors

Citizens Community Federal
Northwestern Bank
Royal Construction
Volume One
Xcel Energy

Game Sponsor
Tile Sponsors
Festival Foods
Mason Companies
RB Scott
Spangler Flory

Special Thanks To:The ScrabbleBee Committee, especially co-chairs Marianne Klinkhammer and Terri Hoepner
Silent Auction, Raffle Basket, and Prize Donors
Emcee Amie Winters of WQOW
Visit Eau Claire for the photo booth
Gator Garb for the T-shirts
Photographer Bill Hoepner
And all of our Word Waiters and other volunteers.

ScrabbleBee would not have been possible without the help of so many businesses, volunteers, and community members. Thank you everyone!

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.