Leadership Timeline of Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle, Inc.

1981: LVEP was born when Therese Hess, a part-time employee of the Martinsburg Public Library, and her husband approached the Friends of the Library for money to buy stamps and flyers to announce the opening of a class to help people learn to read. The Hess couple were inspired after attending a literacy training class sponsored by the Literacy Volunteers of America in Buchannon, WV. Thirty-six people signed up for the first literacy tutor training class during a reception at the library for Barbara Bush, wife of the vice-president and strong literacy advocate.

1982: The organization applies and receives status as a corporation from the West Virginia State Attorney’s office.

1982 to 2007: Directorship passed from Theresa Hess, briefly to Rebecca McDaniel (volunteer and
board member), then to Kelly Duncan. Duncan served the organization as an AmeriCorps volunteer prior to accepting the position of director. The organization also flourished during this time period as a result of a substantial grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy and significant support from the United Way. During this era, LVEP accepted oversight for the Open Door literacy program in Jefferson County. The director of that program retired and the organization and funding difficulties prevented the hiring of a new director.

2008: Debbie Gillis was hired as the director of LVEP with the goal of obtaining new sources of funding:
the grant from the Barbara Bush Foundation expired and the contribution by the United Way
was significantly reduced. Gillis was successful in obtaining generous grants that provided for
the purchase of laptop labs, training materials for tutors, and learning materials for students; however, funds were not sufficient to continue a paid director position. LVEP began working with parents of young children in Morgan County through the leadership of Al Ramsay (board member, tutor trainer, and tutor) and the Starting Points program. Additionally, the one of new laptop computer labs is used to begin a computer literacy program at the Morgan County Senior Center.

2009 to 2010: The Board of Directors was transformed into a working board under the leadership of
Betty Kreinik, president of the LVEP Board. Part-time administrative support was provided by Kay Cress, first as a paid employee and then as a volunteer.

2011 to 2013: The organization continued through the volunteerism and leadership of the Board of
Directors and the administrative support of AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers Erin Manion (2011 –
2012) and Pat Woodson (2012 – 2013). The organization underwent intensive visioning and
strategic planning. In the spring of 2013 the WV AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer program reduced the number of positions in the state and LVEP’s contract was not renewed.

2013 to 2014: LVEP contracted with Pat Woodson to assist the organization in
continued participation in a recently obtained American Library Association grant and to meet LVEP’s requirement to provide a presence in the office provided by the library for a minimum of 20 hours per week. The ALA grant was awarded to the Martinsburg Public Library and LVEP as a joint venture in promoting English language learners to access the Mango, a web-based language program provided free of charge by the Martinsburg Public Library.

2019: In January, 2019 LVEP brought on new officers and board members committed to streamlining the now all-volunteer organization with the goal of finding efficient ways to continue serving adult learners. LVEP has increased its use of digital tools to manage operations, strengthened existing partnerships with state-funded Adult Learning Centers and is reaching out to new partners as we work toward that goal. LVEP’s June 2019 annual meeting brought together over 50 volunteers and learners to celebrate our successes, elect the current officers, and commit to keeping LVEP “alive and well.” During 2019 LVEP was awarded a Nora Roberts Foundation grant, implemented new volunteer intake and training procedures, started new citizenship and adult ESL classes in Berkeley County and a new adult ESL class in Jefferson and provided tutors for new basic literacy students in both Berkeley and Jefferson counties.