For us here at GHCC, one of the most exciting things about our annual Scrabble Fundraiser for Literacy is seeing the event grow as new faces join the ranks of loyal supporters returning year after year. Mary Kay Shock, a retired teacher and current volunteer tutor at the Adult Learning Center (ALC), has been attending the Scrabble Fundraiser with her daughter, Regina, nearly every year since it started in 2002. Mary Kay took some time to tell us about her involvement with the ALC’s work, both as a volunteer tutor and as a Scrabble participant.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your connection to the ALC.
I’m a retired teacher and human resources professional. I taught at the Kennedy Institute School, and I also worked as a job classification specialist and salary analyst for the State of Maryland. More importantly, I’m a mother of 8 children and a grandmother of 14 grandchildren. I have been a tutor at the ALC for almost 15 years.
My daughter, Regina, is a systems manager for Medicare. She loves to play Scrabble. She plays very well and I hardly ever beat her. I keep trying and maybe I’ll win at this year’s Scrabble Fundraiser.
How did you get involved with the work of the ALC?
When I retired, I looked around for a useful activity. My sister-in-law, who worked for another community organization, told me about Greater Homewood. It just fits my circumstances. It is within walking distance from my home, the schedule is flexible, and it makes use of my training and experience. So I started tutoring. I received training and materials. The learners I’ve worked with were fantastic. So I have stayed for 15 years.
What makes the Scrabble Fundraiser different from other fundraisers that you’ve attended?
The people! They are literate people who love words and word games. They’re competitive and fun to be with. The food is great. Last year the live music was classical piano – great background music for playing Scrabble. The space is very comfortable and there’s plenty of parking.
How has the Scrabble Fundraiser evolved over time?
The first couple of years it was held in the basement hall of the church. There were about 20 tables or so. The snacks were simple – chips and sodas. The donation was maybe $5 or $10. Gradually the attendance increased. Now, it’s expanded to Calvert School with prizes, delicious food and drink, a silent auction and live music. It’s gone from a small gathering to a gala.
What is your favorite memory from past years of the Scrabble Fundraiser?
My fondest memory over the years is of the Master of Ceremonies [Jim Fabian]. His good looks and casual good humor make him the embodiment of cheerfulness and fun – perfect for a fundraiser M.C.
At the 2nd or 3rd year of the event, Regina came in third place and won a prize. I once had the highest scoring bingo. That’s when you play all 7 letters on one turn. I won a dozen cannoli from [Vaccaro’s] pastry shop in Little Italy. I forget the word, but the cannoli were delicious.
Why do you feel that the work that the ALC does is important to our community?
A literate and well informed citizenry makes a better community. The ALC provides individual and class instruction in reading, writing, math, GED preparation, English as a second language, and computers. It also provides information about social, political, and health related services.
What would you say to encourage others who may be interested in supporting the Adult Learning Center’s work?
Celebrate the 11th Annual Scrabble Fundraiser for Literacy on Saturday, April 14, 2012 at the Calvert School Atrium – 4300 North Charles Street. Join us for two rounds of Scrabble, live music, a silent auction, food, beer & wine, and informal pick-up games. All proceeds will benefit the Greater Homewood Adult Learning Center. Click here to download a printable registration form or register online. Register by March 30 for an ‘Early Bird’ Prize Drawing! For more information, contact Erin George at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-261-3519.