On Monday, October 26, Midcoast Literacy held it’s 2020 Annual Meeting, an update about and celebration of our work in the Midcoast Maine community providing free literacy services.
This annual event has typically brought together tutors, students, families, staff, and supporters to celebrate the work MCL does in the community and to recognize exceptional tutors and learners for their achievements. This year’s meeting, celebrating the 2019 year, was intended to be held in March, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVD-19 pandemic. Rather than wait any longer for a possible in-person event, the Annual Meeting was held this year as a Zoom webinar.
On October 26, we streamed an online meeting from our offices in Bath. Midcoast Literacy Executive Director Don Lader opened the meeting by calling 2019 “The Year of Collaboration,” and certainly it was that. New partnerships with The Emergency Action Network (T.E.A.N.), Midcoast New Mainers Support Group, and a consortium of statewide literacy volunteer agencies brought new contacts, new learners, and new resources to Midcoast Literacy. Many of these collaborations were prompted by a significant change in the demographics of our learners: the arrival in August, 2019, of approximately 20 families of asylum seekers from central Africa to the Bath-Brunswick area. Working with this large new group of English Language Learners was the biggest change in the 2019 year, and led to Midcoast Literacy recruiting and training a record number of new tutors to meet the demand.
Our organization’s work with the asylum seeker population also brought two individuals to collaborate with Midcoast Literacy who went above and beyond our expectations in 2019 and 2020 to help these New Mainers connect with tutoring. Nsiona Nguizani, the cultural broker for the town of Brunswick, and Maurice Namwira, who works with the immigrant population in Bath were both integral in helping asylum seekers access tutoring, and helping our staff and tutors understand the cultural differences and challenges the New Mainers were facing. The two men were honored at the annual meeting with 2020 Community Collaborator awards for their roles supporting Midcoast Literacy’s mission.
Don closed the Annual Meeting noting that Midcoast Literacy plans to hold it’s 2021 annual meeting at what is slated to be the regular date for the event in March, 2021. He hopes the 2021 meeting will be able to be conducted fully or partially in-person. Midcoast Literacy will also return to awarding it’s traditional “Outstanding Tutor” and “Outstanding Participant” awards at the 2021 annual meeting.