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Literacy Blooms In Hicksville

Speaking and understanding English is something that a lot of people take for granted. Many of us were brought up speaking it fluently and learn how to become advocates for ourselves using the language. However, there are many people — from immigrants to native speakers — who cannot fully grasp English and cannot communicate their needs. Literacy Nassau is battling this problem head on, by teaming up with the Hicksville Public Library to offer its services to those in the area that need help mastering English.  

Since 1968, Literacy Nassau has been helping adults who struggle with reading, writing and speaking English. The organization offers three programs: Adult Literacy Education (a one-on-one tutoring program), conversation groups, and citizenship programs.  Literary specialist Ocaria Silva says that one of Literacy Nassau’s most popular offerings in Hicksville is the citizenship programs, which are offered on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturday. Not only does Literacy Nassau offer classes to assist those who need it in mastering English, but the organization also stands by its members in the fight to become U.S. citizens.

“We offer students citizenship application assistance, so that they can have a smooth and stress-free application process. When we do this, we call it a ‘citizenship drive’, where students can come in, consult with a lawyer and then sit with someone to complete their application,” says Silva. “These days are when you really see the heart of what this program is about— students wanting to build their lives here and who want something better for their families.”

Volunteer Carmen Lloyd helps run a conversation group at the library, where students can have a safe space to practice their English and engage in discussions about current events, culture and whatever else interests them.  Over the four years she has been volunteering, she says she’s seen Literacy Nassau do wonderful things to boost the confidence of people learning English.

“This group is hitting the target in terms of supporting the needs of the community,” she said. “The group really helps them to build confidence in themselves. They really want to learn; they really want to do things and they know that their language skills are not where they need to be.”

She said that the groups she works with are mixed in ethnicities, but that it’s a beautiful thing when they all come together and lean on each other for support.  “The greater diversity definitely helps the group with the level of comfort,” she said.

And seeing people reach their goals has also enhanced her own life. “One man I was working with is now taking a college level course and has become a citizen,” she said. Another woman she worked with was able to attain her personal training license with language skills she had learned in the conversation groups.  “It was amazing to hear how much she knew about fitness and nutrition and we just needed to get her confident in her communication skills,” she said.

Hicksville resident Mark Shimnoski has been volunteering as a one-on-one tutor with Literacy Nassau for about a year. He wanted to use his English degree to give back, which he is able to during his weekly two hour sessions with Michael, a Chinese immigrant. Michael has a medical background and Shimnoski is currently helping him as he prepares for a medical exam to practice in the U.S.

“We go over mock patient exams and work on his conversation and writing abilities so it is grammatically correct,” Shimnoski says.

The classes are more than just teaching someone how to read and write; it enables students more opportunities and a better future for them and their family.

“It has far reaching effects, it’s not just conversational skills but there’s a lot more going on. I know I’m helping him find a better career and life for his family,” Shimnoski said. “And it’s inspiring to me because I really want to see him persevere and develop as a professional and a person. It’s been a wonderful experience and he’s really prospered.”

For more information on Literacy Nassau and to get involved, visit www.literacynassau.org

News

It was quite a panel at the Hicksville Community Center Oct. 20 as State Senator Jack Martins and Senate Candidate Adam Haber discussed their qualifications and answered public questions about their upcoming election bids in the 7th Senate District. Congressman Steve Israel was on hand as well as 13 District State Assemblyman Michael Montesano and contender Lou Imbroto. The event was hosted by Northwest Civic Association President Joel Berse.

Martins, who previously served as Mayor of Mineola and was elected to Senate in 2011, said that the State of New York is in much better financial shape since he has taken office.

Alan Yu, an external auditor from the firm, Cullen & Danowski LLP gave the findings of the annual district external audit at Oct. 22’s Hicksville Board of Education meeting. Discussed at the meeting were the financial statements of the 2013-14 school year which officially ended June 30.

According to Yu, the Hicksville School district has a fund balance of $34 million. Roughly 26 to 27 percent of the general fund balance comprises the total budget.


Sports

The Hicksville girls volleyball team improved to 7-1 by knocking off Oceanside in three consecutive sets by scores of 25-13, 25-19 and 25-14.

Emily Markakis played terrificly, using a powerful serve to record three aces, seven kills and added nine digs. Nikki Chase added six kills and eight digs. Additionally, Raeann Dong was versatile—recording three aces, seven kills and nine digs.

The Girls Varsity soccer team, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, wore pink uniforms and pink socks in their game on Oct. 8 against MacArthur whom they defeated 1-0. The girls and boys soccer programs at Hicksville High School are selling pink ribbon car magnets with a soccer ball and HHS on it with the words “Kick Cancer” on the ribbon. All the money raised will go to the Sarah Grace Foundation, which is a local foundation trying to beat pediatric cancer. The players plan to raise $1,000 for this organization

— From Hicksville High School


Calendar

Safe Trick or Treat

October 31

Election Day

November 4

Senior Luncheon

November 6



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