By Steve Sears
The Bloomingdale Free Public Library was recently recognized for its Family Literacy Program, as was local resident, Amtul Basit, who recently became a United States citizen, and cited the program for its aid.
The event was held at the Workshop Meeting of the Governing Body of the Borough of Bloomingdale.
“Ms. Amtul Basit was awarded an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Bloomingdale Free Public Library in recognition of her participation in the Family Literacy Program with congratulations on becoming a United States citizen,” says Patricia Perugino, Library Director. “The Family Literacy Program volunteers report their monthly attendance and activities to the library director. I reported to the Library Board Ms. Basit’s achievement and that the Mayor (Jonathan Dunleavy) offered to recognize her at a council meeting. The Board and I were ecstatic to acknowledge and award her with a plaque.”
Basit presented the following speech that evening:
“I wanted to pursue my United States citizenship status because it has always been a dream of mine and I wanted to vote. America is such a great country in that it offers life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. I have always valued the freedoms that America offers. I love this country and look forward to voting in the next election.”
“The library’s Family Literacy Program has been a blessing. I was fortunate enough to have been matched with Maureen Howard as a tutor. Maureen, a retired nurse, has a lot of knowledge about American history. She worked very hard preparing me for the citizenship exam. English is not my first language, but Maureen put forth a lot of effort to help me understand the details of the language as well as providing me lots of materials to educate me on American history. Linda Bennett also did an amazing job of connecting me with Maureen and providing me ongoing support throughout the process.”
“I can fully attest to what the amazing Family Literacy Program has to offer. My citizenship application was submitted in the summer of 2018 and my interview was in March of 2019. Throughout that 8-month process, having the support system of Linda and Maureen made all the difference and gave me much more confidence in my ability to pass the exam.”
“I appreciate everyone’s efforts and hope that we can inspire others to take the same steps towards their pursuit of becoming a U.S. citizen.”
The Family Literacy Program – which Bennett helped found in the fall of 2017, who then was Children’s Programming Coordinator and is currently a Library Trustee – in 2018 held 66 classes for 97 students. Prospective students are first interviewed regarding their specific needs (such as filling out job or rental applications, banking, citizenship, etc.) prior to engaging in a constructive program. The highlight areas are English as a Second Language (ESL), Reading Skills, Writing Skills, High School Equivalency Preparation (GED), Basic Remedial Math, and U.S. Citizenship Exam Preparation. “Once we have a better idea of the needs of our students, we tailor our program accordingly. Matching a student with a tutor is the next step, followed by an initial assessment of need. The student’s input into goal setting is vital in developing a specifically geared program for the individual student. The intent is to fine tune a specific plan using various materials and activities, ensuring they are realistic for the student’s skill level,” says Perugino. She also adds, “By way of background and according to the 2010 U.S. Census, more than 300 languages are spoken across the United States. One in five households do not speak English in the home. Every multilingual community benefits from this type of program.”
The Bloomingdale Free Public Library is located at 101 Hamburg Turnpike. Visit www.bloomingdalelibrary.org or call (973) 838-0077.