The Creston branch of the Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy presented the Creston Community Literacy Award on Sept. 8, with English language tutor Bev Phaneuf earning the award this year.
She was the sixth person or organization to receive the annual award, following the Creston Valley Teachers’ Association (2014), English language tutor Linda Price (2013), former Creston Valley Public Library chief librarian Ann Day (2012), Family Place (2011) and Kootenay Employment Services (2010).
Phaneuf has been tutoring an East Shore man for five years, a logical progression from her career as a teacher’s assistant, mainly in elementary schools, and later at Prince Charles Secondary School after moving to Creston several years ago.
“This person really intrigued me,” Phaneuf said. “The reading and writing were really difficult for him.”
But they were important to him — so when his car broke down, he began walking to Creston for tutoring from his home north of Wynndel.
She understands his difficulty with the English language, having had a tough time in school herself.
“Words don’t play fair,” she said. “They’re so unpredictable.”
Phaneuf had no extra help when she struggled with education, and she’s happy for the chance to pass on what she’s learned to someone else — someone equally deserving of an award.
“It’s his success, too,” she said. “Sometimes he just glows.”
The Creston Community Literacy Award was presented to Phaneuf at the Big Read, an open mike night that kicked off National Literacy Month, and featured local celebrity readers, including Creston Mayor Ron Toyota, Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie, Creston Museum manager Tammy Hardwick, Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce executive director Jim Jacobsen and Community Futures Central Kootenay business counsellor Alison Bjorkman.