The Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL) wrapped up another fiscal year with its annual general meeting last week.
The meeting ended with an emotional presentation that highlighted what the organization is all about.
Kyoko Smith came to Canada from Japan eight years ago. She left her job and her family and friends behind.
“I had to quit my job as a high school teacher, which I had a passion for,” said Smith. “This was very hard for me because I knew that in coming to Canada I would not be able to continue my work as a teacher and my credentials and experience would not be recognized in Canada.”
She had travelled to North America many times but explained that travelling to and visiting a country is totally different than living there.
With small children at home, Smith spent many days without adult friendships.
“The hardest part was the loneliness,” added Smith. “I felt so isolated and knew I needed to find a way to connect with people and society.”
That is when she found an English Second Language family program run by CBAL.
“This program changed my life for the better,” Smith said. “I still remember the staff was so nice and warm, welcoming us when we first joined the program.”
“I met so many people from all over the world trying to adjust to life in Canada,” she explained. “We all had a similar situation, so we connected well and shared our feelings.”
Eventually, Smith became a single-mom and leaned on CBAL support to help her navigate her new situation.
“A lot of women like me are isolated from the support of family and peers. If not for the support I received from the CBAL program, it is very likely that I may not be alive today … I can not express my appreciation [enough].”
Smith now works for CBAL as a child-minding facilitator.
“Every person has their own set of experiences, culture and history,” explained CBAL’s new executive director Desneiges Profili. “But our job at CBAL is to help them shift through that. We want their challenges to be minimal and we want their successes to be great.”
The not-for-profit organization has been supporting literacy in the Basin and Boundary for 16 years. Last year, CBAL served over 8,000 clients through literacy programs, workshops and events.
“I would like to thank the staff, volunteers, partners, participants, community members and funders for their unwavering support of CBAL,” said Profili in her annual report.
CBAL by the numbers
6,334 hours of family programs
4,594 hours for the adult and senior programs
266 hours for child and youth programs
services to 77 communities
7 board members
16 community hubs
16 community literacy coordinators
16 community planning committees