If spelling is your thing, you just may be in luck; the 15th annual literacy spelling bee will be held June 22 at the Milford Firefighter’s Bingo Hall.
The event, the biggest fund raiser of the year for the Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties, will pit teams of three against each other in a battle that will shake them to the depth of their vowels.
“This is our biggest fund raiser,” said Susan Vilardo, Executive Director of The Literacy Council of Clermont and Brown Counties. “Three-person teams of adults compete together to spell words. These words are hard, I’ve never even heard of most of them. They are terribly difficult, the team hears the word, confers, and then one member goes to the microphone to spell it. If they are right, the team progresses, if not, the team is out. The teams are eliminated until there is only one left standing, and these teams are hard-core. They get very competitive.”
"We're a not-for-profit agency funded through the United Way and ABLE, which stands for Adult Basic Literacy Education," said Vilardo. "That is about half our funding. After that, all of our funding comes through individual donations. Our mission is to help adults learn how to read through one-on-one tutoring. We have two staff members, and the rest are all volunteers. We also get the word out to the community that illiteracy does exist."
The literacy council exists, said Vilardo, to help adults who have no or little literacy skills to learn to read. This area, she said, is hard hit with literacy problems that are not being adequately addressed.
"In Clermont and Brown counties, we are in deep trouble," said Vilardo. "About one in four adults cannot read. We typically don't offer classes, because so many of the individuals who come here have had a bad experience with the classroom environment. It can be a treat to know they will be working one-on-one, that the attention will be just on them. It's very private, they can meet wherever they want for these lessons. Most people choose to go to the local library."
Located in the work resource center, the literacy council helps coordinate students with volunteer tutors, which can be tricky at times. The council, she said, is always in need of more volunteers.
"Our plight is we either have too many students waiting for tutors or too many tutors waiting for students, we never have a balance," said Vilardo. "As far as students, we usually have around 100 or so a year. We know that's the tip of the iceberg. The word has to get out to help more people."
The approaching spelling bee has a $275 entry fee per team, said Vilardo, but some teams may find sponsorship through contributors to the literacy council. To learn more about the council or the bee, or if you wish to volunteer, call (513) 943-3740.
"We're thankful for all of the businesses and individuals who have helped sponsor this spelling bee," said Vilardo. "They really make it possible for us to stay afloat."