Dana’s Story


The volunteer tutors of OLC are the heartbeat of our mission, doing the incredible work week in and week out of opening the world of words to low-literate friends. In 2016, OLC volunteers contributed almost 5,000 hours of service to the community.

About four years ago, Dana Mallory read in the Springfield News-Leader that OLC had students waiting for tutors. “It broke my heart to think of people that had the courage to ask for, want help, with no one to help them.”

Dana’s first student was a 37-year old gentleman, a high school graduate, but could only read at a third-grade level. Motivated by his then 8-year old daughter who was in the third grade and a desire to be more employable, he took his literacy goals seriously.

While working with Dana, the man’s daughter finished third grade. On her last day of school, Dana and the man had a session in which he expressed pride in his daughter’s accomplishments. Dana asked if he would like to write a short letter to his daughter.

“I have never written a letter before,” he replied.

Together they crafted a short letter expressing his pride, affirming his love, and congratulating his daughter on a job well done. He left the session proudly carrying the letter, grinning from ear to ear.

The next week, Dana asked about the letter.

“She loved it, hugged me, and has slept with it under her pillow ever since,” the proud father replied.

Literacy connects families.

Dana currently tutors a 16-year old girl with learning disabilities who reads at a fourth-grade level. They hit their 2-year anniversary working together this past March.

“When we first met, she was NOT happy to be there,” Dana said. “It was very hard to keep her attention or make progress. She wouldn’t look at me during our session and kept her head down, mumbling one or two word answers to my questions.”

Fast forward through two years of patient and persistent work.

“Now, she’s learning quickly and we have so much fun together. We laugh every lesson! In the beginning, her mom had to bribe her with McDonald’s afterwards just to get her there. Last month, she was angry with her mom for canceling our session when mom had to work late. That was extremely gratifying! Her birthday and our anniversary date of tutoring is same week. We have celebrated with gourmet cupcakes. Her mom even told me she looked forward to our celebration more than her birthday party!”

Literacy changes lives.

Thank you Dana for sharing your stories and for your amazing work with OLC! We are excited to have you as our newest board member!

There are currently 15 new students waiting to be partnered with a tutor. The next tutor training is June 10th. If you would like to be one of OLC’s amazing volunteer tutors, please contact us here.