Volunteer of the Month - March 2021

Mary Hempel

LSW expected that opening a new location in a new county would be a big endeavor. The pandemic gave our reasonable expectations a good thrashing and exponentially multiplied our challenges. As we struggled to build programming for the new Waukesha location, one volunteer became an integral part of our team. We are delighted to recognize Mary Hempel as LSW’s Volunteer of the Month!

When Mary learned of the merger between Literacy Services of WI (LSW) and Greater Waukesha Literacy (GWL), she reached out to learn how she could help. A former volunteer for both organizations and a retired Special Education teacher, Mary recognized that she had a lot to offer ABE students and was eager to help. She had no idea how important she would become to the successful launch of programming in Waukesha.

Mary started out by helping to create, sort, and organize lesson materials. She volunteered dozens of hours to help with what she cheerfully described as “busy work.” Her efforts accelerated our progress and allowed us to focus on student recruitment and enrollment.

As we began to enroll new ABE students, Mary graciously accepted every assignment we asked of her. Sudden schedule changes, students dropping and adding, the safety protocols – none of these things fazed Mary. She often arrived an hour early or stayed an hour after her session, just to help out around the office. Mary became a crucial member of the Waukesha team and we couldn’t have accomplished all that we have without her immeasurable contributions.

Oh, and did we mention, she’s also an excellent tutor?! A certified instructor of the Wilson Reading System, Mary excels at teaching students with significant deficits. Her current student, Shazia, credits Mary with her ever-improving skills and showers her with gratitude. We echo Shazia’s sentiments: Mary is a phenomenal volunteer and we are beyond grateful for her time, energy, and dedication. Thank you, Mary!