Trauma-Informed Practices Help Adult Learners Succeed

According to a recent World Education blog post, “Perhaps now more than ever, adult educators are paying attention to the impact that personal and community trauma has on adult learners’ ability to learn and pursue their goals.”

COVID-19 was a collective trauma we all experienced in the last two years—a trauma felt even more acutely by adult literacy students. As the blog post states, “Those most affected by the devastation of the pandemic are disproportionately people of color and immigrants, especially those who are women. When these adults are our students, using trauma-informed practices will increase their opportunities to learn and pursue their education and career goals. Using trauma-informed practices is an integral part of enacting our values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

Case Manager Wazhma Pal helps DCLC students overcome barriers to learning, which sometimes involves guiding them to resources that can address the traumas they have experienced.

“Attending classes online, managing work and family at the same time can be a real challenge for adult students,” says Wazhma. “Sometimes they struggle to find housing, which is definitely traumatic. For immigrant students, there is the trauma of adjusting to a new country with minimal to no language skills. As the DCLC case manager, I help students connect with organizations that provide services they need. Acknowledging the difficulties in a student’s life also helps them take steps to get help and recognize their own strength.”

With the help of DCLC’s Case Manager Wazhma Pal, DCLC provides literacy instruction that welcomes adult students as individuals who bring their own experiences and challenges to their studies.

You also may be interested in these stories from February/March 2022 DCLC News & Notes.

DCLC Profile: DaVeda Graham Brings Focus on Community Learning to DCLC Board
DCLC Offers Free Employment Services and Digital Literacy to Community Members

DCLC News: DCLC Offers Free Employment Services & Digital Literacy to Community Members

Employment Coach and participant
Employment Coach Wilma Guzman-Perez (right) of the Immigrant Employment Program reviews job opportunities with Olouchegoun “Champs” Linkpon (left).

Instruction is just the beginning. Sure, local adults come to Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) to study for their GED or to learn English if they are from another country, but DCLC also offers some free programs that may be less familiar to county residents.

In conjunction with the Delaware County Workforce Investment Board, DCLC offers these free programs that help increase the literacy and employability of our entire county.

Back to Work provides free job-search help to Delaware County residents age 40 and over who have received Unemployment Compensation in the last year. Employment Coach Elaine Herbert guides participants through all steps of the job search, helping them find jobs that match their skills. Put her expertise in salary negotiations and career trends to work for you. Get started by completing an interest form.

Immigrant Employment offers free job-search help to immigrants living in Delaware County. DCLC employment coaches can help you look for jobs, complete applications, create a resume, prepare for interviews, and more. Some translation services are available. Get started by completing an interest form.

Digital Literacy Classes provide structured small-group classes to help Delaware County residents learn and practice basic computer skills. These classes are offered at Upper Darby libraries, at DCLC’s building in Chester, and at the Career Link in Chester. Please call the location where you’d like to attend to learn more and register.

  • PA Career Link in Chester, Monday mornings, 610-447-3350
  • Upper Darby Municipal Library, Tuesday mornings, 610-734-7649
  • Upper Darby Sellers Library, Wednesday afternoons, 610-789-4400
  • Upper Darby Primos Library, Thursday mornings, 610-622-8091
  • Delaware County Literacy Council, Friday mornings, 610-876-4811

You also may be interested in these stories from February/March 2022 DCLC News & Notes.

DCLC Profile: DaVeda Graham Brings Focus on Community Learning to DCLC Board
Trauma-Informed Practices Help Adult Learners Succeed

Adult Students See Lesson on Perseverance in Sidney Poitier’s Life

Black and white photo of Sidney Poitier


Adult learners in Amy Rosenberg’s Adult Basic Education class read an article about Sidney Poitier’s accomplishments as an actor and activist, but they were most intrigued and inspired by Poitier’s rocky start to his acting career.

According to the article (; must register for a free account to access the article), Poitier was thrown out of his first audition.

“[Poitier] was told to read one of the parts. However, with little formal education, he read haltingly and still had a thick West Indian accent.

“Frederick O’Neal, one of the founders of the theater, came up onstage and physically marched Poitier to the door. He angrily told Poitier to stop wasting people’s time. O’Neal added, ‘Why don’t you get yourself a job as a dishwasher or something?’”

Poitier improved his English by listening to the radio and reading newspapers. He auditioned again and was hired on a trial basis. He persevered through other setbacks to become an Oscar-winning actor.

DCLC student Prince (students are identified by first names only) was the first to be inspired by the article. He made the following statement, and his classmates chimed in.


Never give up on your dream. Never give up. Sidney Poitier was thrown out of his audition, but he came back. Always be consistent in whatever you do. Keep focus and keep pressing on. God has something special for you. He will never take your mail to the wrong address. Don’t let difficulties keep you down. Whatever work you put in is what you get out. Nothing good comes easily. Just be consistent and prayerful and see the end result that everything is going to fall into the right place at the right time. When the time comes, nothing can stop you. Continue being you and keep focus. Pay attention to the signs. Do not be afraid to fail. Every time you fail, you are in the process toward your destiny. The more you fail, the closer you get. Always believe in yourself.


Just pass the first step. Never give up. Never stop trying and believing. Your day will come.


Dreams do come true.


Nothing can stop you. Sidney Poitier broke down on-screen color barriers and reached stardom.


Sidney Poitier dropped out of school at age 13. Other people may say, “You won’t do it.” If you listen, you might lose control, but if you focus and stay with it, you can get to where you want to be. Some people give you encouragement and others discourage you. Don’t listen to the discouragers. Don’t look back. Just look forward, and you will get there.


The first step is the hardest step. Never stop. Your day will come. Thank you for inspiring me. I will endure to get where I want to be. If he can do it, so can I. You have to go through something to be something. I am embarking on new things. The way you come in to DCLC is not the way you leave. You must have vision.


You can’t give up on anything.


As long as you believe that you can do it, you can set your mind to any goal.


There is nothing impossible to they who will try. Be who you are and say what you feel. Poitier was born an actor. He pursued his studies. Sometimes you don’t know what your calling is at first. He found his calling and didn’t give up. Don’t give up. One day you will make it.


Whatever you have been through, others have gone before you. Everybody has had struggles and hardships in life. They went through it firsthand. I can relate to what they went through. Different day, same problem. People can stand in your way and not have faith in you and reject you. Some people are still prejudiced with the mindset from the past. Sidney Poitier said that he was privileged to stand on the shoulders of the African American actors that went before him to see where he might go. I started out wanting to stay in school to help others who need help. I can’t hesitate. Motivation is the key. We went through so many struggles, day in and day out. At DCLC, I am at ease and relaxed, content with where I am today, working to achieve my goals and dreams.

We at DCLC are inspired by the preseverance and determination shown by these adult learners, as they work toward their goals and dreams!

Image courtesy of

Local and National Grants Help Literacy Council Offer Free Services

DCLC logo

Press Release of December 3, 2021

Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) has received generous broad-based support for the free literacy and employment services it offers to local adults. National and local foundations have recognized the importance of DCLC’s work in the community by awarding grants to DCLC during 2021.

DCLC helps adults in Delaware County develop reading, writing, math and English language skills by offering free in-person and online classes, as well as job training and employment coaching to specific populations. Providing services that allow adults to improve their skills and land family-sustaining jobs has been especially vital during the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Richard G. and Audrey A. Brinkman Foundation located in Philadelphia awarded DCLC with a generous $10,000.00 grant in 2021. Created in 2008, this foundation primarily funds a variety of educational programs to honor the memory of Richard and Audrey Brinkman. DCLC learned about the foundation through Lisa Brinkman, daughter of Richard and Audrey Brinkman. Lisa Brinkman experienced firsthand how free adult literacy services can transform lives when she shared her time and talent as a volunteer DCLC basic literacy tutor, helping an adult student improve their reading and writing.

Another local grant came from the City of Chester Grant Program, through The Community’s Foundation. The grant supports community-based programs and projects that improve the quality of life for residents of Chester, PA. Funds are provided by a Giving Circle of donors who have a personal interest in supporting the City of Chester. DCLC was founded in 1975 to offer reading and writing help to Chester residents and continues to provide services to adults living in Chester and all of Delaware County, including instruction in basic literacy, GED preparation, and English as a Second Language (ESL).

A foundation associated with a well-known author also provided support to DCLC in 2021. The Nora Roberts Foundation awarded DCLC with a $3,000.00 grant. The Nora Roberts Foundation focuses primarily on supporting literacy organizations that serve a local community. Nora Roberts is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 230 novels. She is also the author of the bestselling In Death series written under the pen name J.D. Robb. There are more than 500 million copies of her books in print.

Grants sometimes can provide material assistance, too. For example, the national organization ProLiteracy awarded DCLC with a free subscription to News for You Online, a weekly newspaper with topical articles and literacy lessons that students can access online. The subscription was awarded through the Mobile Learning Fund.

This online tool has been especially helpful for DCLC adult students who are learning virtually. Since the spring of 2020, DCLC has been offering classes and tutoring via online video platforms. News for You Online has come in handy during this shift in instruction. As one volunteer tutor explains, “My student finds the articles in News for You Online interesting and informative. News for You helps to fill in the gaps in her education and furthers her interest in current events.”

“We are grateful to these foundations for their support,” said DCLC Executive Director Pat Gunnin. “DCLC is generously funded by a variety of sources, including government grants, individuals, and corporate sponsors. This wide-ranging support truly makes a difference in the lives of the adults who study at Delaware County Literacy Council,” he added.

To get involved and/or learn more about DCLC’s programs, including free online and in-person classes for local adults, visit

Fun Workshops & Delco VIPs Headline Expert Academy Telethon

Kathy Deitch, Phil Rosenthal, Alex Garfinkel

Press Release of October 4, 2021

Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) is once again shining a spotlight on some of Delco’s best and brightest in an online celebration of adult literacy. The 2021 Expert Academy Telethon will feature accomplished professionals with ties to our area sharing knowledge in exciting workshops. The 2021 Champions of Adult Literacy will also be honored during the online event, and some Delco heroes and special guests will appear.

The Expert Academy Telethon is free and will be held at 7 PM on Wednesday, October 20. Details are available at

The three lively workshops by experts will focus on writing for TV, on singing, and on cooking.

TV writer and producer Phil Rosenthal will discuss comedy writing in his insightful workshop “Writing for Television: How I Made My Life into a Sitcom.” Phil is the creator of the legendary sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. He currently stars in the food travelogue series Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. Phil will be interviewed by his wife Monica Horan Rosenthal, a Delaware County native whom fans will recognize as Amy MacDougall/Barrone from Everybody Loves Raymond.

Brad Ingelsby
Brad Ingelsby, creator of the HBO mini-series Mare of Easttown, will be one of the Delaware County special guests appearing at the Literacy Council’s free Expert Academy Telethon, held online on Wednesday, October 20 at 7:00 PM.

Kathy Deitch, a Ridley Park native who starred as Shen Shen in the original Broadway ensemble cast of Wicked, will help you take your singing voice to new heights in her innovative interactive workshop “Anyone Can Sing.” Kathy’s performing credits include Rent directed by Neil Patrick Harris, Silence! The Musical (LA Weekly Award), American Horror Story: Freak Show, and the thriller Loft, opposite Modern Family’s Eric Stonestreet.

Local chef Alex Garfinkel will demonstrate how to prepare some delectable small dishes from Spain in his workshop “Tapas Three Ways.” Alex started his catering business out of his parents’ kitchen in Delaware County while catering for the movie Creed, which was filming in Philadelphia. Alex learned his craft in some of the best restaurants in Philadelphia, including Le Bec Fin, Morimoto, Amada, and Lacroix. He also studied under Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz in Spain. Alex is chef and co-owner of Balboa Catering and Balboa at American Silk supper club in Philadelphia.

“These workshop will give viewers the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and learn something new, just as the adults who study at DCLC show every day that they are brave enough to keep learning and challenging themselves so that they can improve their lives,” says DCLC’s Executive Director Pat Gunnin.

To add to the evening’s excitement, Brad Ingelsby, Villanova alum and creator of the award-winning HBO mini-series Mare of Easttown, will be sharing a message of encouragement, as well as his thoughts on literacy and some insight into his work. Mare of Easttown, which is set in Delaware County, won several primetime Emmys this year and made Delaware County and our distinctive accent the talk of the entertainment world!

News anchor Lucy Bustamante of NBC10/Telemundo62, who resides in Haverford, Delaware County, will be the emcee for the evening. She is the daughter of Cuban refugees who migrated to the U.S., which gives her a unique appreciation of the challenges faced by immigrants who come to DCLC to learn English.

The inspiring 2021 Champions of Adult Literacy will be honored during the telethon. Neighbor to Neighbor Community Development Corporation in Sharon Hill will be recognized as the 2021 Community Champion; Dr. Monica Taylor, Vice-Chair of County Council, will be honored as the 2021 Hometown Hero Champion; and Temadji Kantangar will be honored as the 2021 Student Champion.

Anyone interested in learning even more from the experts can check out the premium-package donation options. With these packages, individuals can get writing tips or singing tips directly from experts Phil Rosenthal or Kathy Deitch in live Zoom sessions held later in the year. A four-course meal prepared by Chef Alex Garfinkel held at Balboa at American Silk is also available through the premium packages. Learn more at

The Expert Academy Telethon is generously supported by Major Sponsors Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union and PECO and Supporting Sponsors Brinker Simpson and Sun East Federal Credit Union. Other generous sponsors of the event include King’s Automotive, Rose Valley Appraisal, White Horse Village, HOP Energy, John Cipollone Heating & Cooling, KPInterface, Monarch Staffing, Rafferty Subaru, Swarthmore House Parts, Wayne Jewelers, and Ameriprise Advisor Michael Hartnett. Any business or organization interested in sponsoring the Expert Academy Telethon can phone Susan at 610-876-4811 or visit the event website at

The Delaware County Literacy Council provides free literacy services that help local adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit

Harrah’s Supports Delaware County Literacy Council with Generous Grant

Harrahs and DCLC staff with check

Press Release of August 9, 2021

Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) was recently awarded a generous grant of $5,000.00 from Harrah’s Philadelphia through the Caesars Foundation.

Representatives of Harrah’s Philadelphia Racetrack & Casino gathered at DCLC’s building in Chester to celebrate the grant by presenting a symbolic check to DCLC staff members

Harrah’s Philadelphia team members gathered at Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) in Chester to celebrate a $5,000.00 grant awarded to DCLC by Harrah’s through Caesars Foundation. Shown with the check are (L to R): Katey Kimpel, Harrah’s Director of Marketing; Chris Albrecht, Harrah’s Senior Vice President and General Manager; Pat Gunnin, DCLC Executive Director; Liz Brenner, DCLC Director of Student Support Services; Patty Cain, Harrah’s Vice President of Human Resources; Scott Love, Harrah’s Director of Hospitality and DCLC Board Member; Nick Capriotti, Harrah’s Vice President of Finance; and Matt Conner, Harrah’s Vice President of Security and Facilities/Engineer.

“DCLC teaches reading, writing, and math to local adults. Harrah’s is proud to support these efforts that are so vital to our community,” said Harrah’s Vice President of Human Resources Patty Cain.

The generous gift will help DCLC to continue offering remote and in-person classes in adult basic education, English as a Second Language (ESL), and GED preparation to adults in Delaware County.

Since opening in 2007, Harrah’s has been a strong community presence in the City of Chester and a steady supporter of DCLC. Talented staff members from Harrah’s have served regularly on DCLC’s Board of Directors, and Harrah’s has hosted and sponsored DCLC’s Champions of Adult Literacy fundraising event since 2013. Also, as a major employer in the area, Harrah’s provides job opportunities for adults who are improving their skills and seeking a better life.

“Clearly, Harrah’s is a wonderful community partner with a great track record of positive impact,” said Pat Gunnin, DCLC Executive Director.

The Delaware County Literacy Council helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit

FMFCU Foundation Golf Classic Results in Generous Gift to Literacy Council

Check from Franklin Mint

Press Release of July 21, 2021

Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC) recently received a generous gift of $5,000.00 from the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) Foundation that represented a fun afternoon of golf and community spirit.

FMFCU Foundation’s sold-out Second Annual Golf Classic was held on June 7 at the Radley Run Country Club in West Chester PA. Proceeds from the successful fundraising event were donated to local food banks and other community organizations, including DCLC.

“We were so pleased with the turnout and the good we have been able to do in the community through this event,” said Rick Durante, Executive Director of FMFCU Foundation and Co-President of DCLC’s Board of Directors.

Mr. Durante, (shown at right) and Danielle Griffin, Foundation Program Manager, presented the $5,000.00 donation to DCLC Executive Director Pat Gunnin (shown at left) with a symbolic “big check.”

“We are grateful for the support of FMFCU Foundation. This donation will help local adults improve their literacy skills and work toward their goals,” said Mr. Gunnin.

The Delaware County Literacy Council helps adults develop reading, writing, math, and English language skills so that these adults can thrive in the workplace and community. To learn more or to get involved, visit

Check from Franklin Mint
Rick Durante, Executive Director of Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union (FMFCU) Foundation (shown at right), along with Danielle Griffin, Foundation Program Manager, present a $5,000.00 donation to Pat Gunnin (shown at left), Executive Director of Delaware County Literacy Council (DCLC). The donation represents proceeds from FMFCU Foundation’s Second Annual Golf Classic, held in June.