Garfield Literacy Outreach receives statewide award |

Garfield Literacy Outreach receives statewide award

Martha Fredendall, Literacy Outreach Executive Director, fall 2009, photo by library district

Garfield County’s Literacy Outreach program, under the direction of Martha Fredendall, has the 2009 Jean Maio Award for Excellence in Adult Literacy, bestowed by the Colorado Association of Libraries.

The award, which will be presented to Fredendall in Denver later this month, recognizes excellence in literacy programming by a Colorado academic, special, public or school library, or a library in collaboration with another agency.

Priority is given to a program that serves economically disadvantaged individuals in settings where families work on literacy needs, according to a press release announcing the award.

Fredendall has helped hundreds of local adults learn reading, writing, math or English as a Second Language, a passion that stems from her youth.

She grew up with nine siblings, including a brother and an aunt with Down syndrome. Her parents also took in a foster child who had learning difficulties and struggled to learn to read.

So, for Fredendall, running Garfield County’s literacy program turned out to be a great fit.

“It was like this position was tailor-made for me,” said Fredendall, who started with Literacy Outreach 15 years ago as a volunteer doing computer work. She then signed on as a part-time volunteer coordinator and moved into her role as director 12 years ago.

Fredendall said the students help her maintain her enthusiasm.

“When you see the effects of illiteracy on people, it inspires you to keep wanting to do something and to work harder,” she said.

Literacy Outreach began in 1986, and currently works with 73 adult students from ages 18 to 64 in Garfield County. The nonprofit provides free, one-on-one instruction to adults with reading skills below the fourth-grade level.

Fredendall was nominated by Garfield County Library Public Library District Executive Director Amelia Shelley.

“Without Martha’s tireless advocacy for adult literacy, Literacy Outreach as an entity would not have endured,” Shelley said. “Martha serves as an excellent advocate, lifting up the issue of adult literacy for greater visibility to the community through frequent public events, trainings and fundraisers. Literacy Outreach seeks out students who are the hardest to reach, those without education, transportation and financial resources to get help on their own.”

Literacy Outreach board member Linda English said of Fredendall, “Her heart and soul go into this program every single day.”

The nonprofit operated under the umbrella of Colorado Mountain College for nearly a dozen years, and this summer transitioned to operate under the auspices of the Garfield County Public Library District. Literacy Outreach has been housed in the Glenwood Springs Branch Library since 1993.

Although the successful program has 57 professionally trained volunteer tutors, with a waiting list of 70 students, the need for more tutors is great.

For more information, or to become a volunteer, contact Fredendall at 945-5282 or log on to and find Literacy Outreach under Learning Tools.

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