I think it’s horrible for a person to grow up in America and not know how to read or write. I think it’s inexcusable, and I wanted to do something to change it,” says Barbara Sinclair, the Advocate’s Volunteer of the Month.

Sinclair lives east of White Rock Lake and volunteers for LIFT, Literacy Instruction for Texas. She meets two women at the Rhodes Terrace housing project weekly, instructing them in basic reading and writing skills.

LIFT trained Barbara and supplied a lesson plan.

“The emphasis isn’t on testing and giving feedback, like you find in public schools,” Sinclair says. “We try to keep it non-threatening.”


Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) helps adults learn to read and write. Lessons range from learning the alphabet to developing eighth-grade reading proficiency. More than 500 volunteers staff daytime and evening classes; average weekly volunteer time commitment is four hours.

Volunteers are asked to teach at least one full school year. Fifteen hours of initial training is provided to all volunteers, and additional training is available.

Call Anita Smith, 824-2000, for more information.

Head Start East Dallas works to develop social, cognitive, emotional and motor skills in children ages three-and-a-half to five years. Volunteers work as teaching assistants, cooks and receptionists. Eighty low-income children participate in the program, which also provides health care and three nutritious meals daily.

Call Emilia Reyna, 824-2525, for more information.

Young Life seeks to promote spiritual growth among high school students. Groups are active at Bryan Adams, Woodrow Wilson, Samuell and Skyline high schools. Volunteers spend three to five hours weekly working with students. Numerous special programs, field trips and events are scheduled.

Call Steve Elkins, 686-0065, for more information.

If you are interested in volunteering, but none of the groups highlighted in this column appeal to you, call the Volunteer Center of Dallas County at 826-6767. The Volunteer Center matches prospective volunteers with agencies throughout Dallas.

Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.