Newcomer volunteer giving back to community and building connections as a literacy tutor - West Neighbourhood House

Rahul volunteers in the Adult Literacy Program teaching English-language skills

Rahul arrived in Canada as a newcomer during the pandemic. “When I came to this country in 2021, I didn’t know too many people,” he says. On his regular commute on the 511 Bathurst streetcar, he began taking notice of the large West Neighbourhood House sign at our 588 Queen Street West location, and decided to learn about volunteering opportunities.

“I had been wanting to do some volunteering for a long time. And, I had some time available after work in the evenings.”

“I also thought volunteering was a great opportunity for me to meet other members of the community. I like to think of this as my community now.”

Rahul has been an adult literacy tutor for over a year now and sees one student, typically once a week. He was a teacher for a time back in India.

“I thought it was a skill that I was not using. Since I had the skills, I thought, that I could put it to use here. That’s one aspect I liked. The other aspect is that I love reading and writing. I love to be able to show to someone else that there is great value in being able to read and write.”

“For me, it’s also about engaging with people from the community I live in. I like to think that I know people here [at West NH and the community at large]. I like to think I am making a valuable contribution.”

The Adult Literacy program at West Neighbourhood House helps adults to improve their English-language skills, as well as basic/intermediate level math, through one-on-one individual lessons or in small groups.

Rahul says that he has built a good friendship with the student. They were able to openly discuss their goals. In his work with this student, they focus primarily on reading texts, sometimes provided by staff. Staff also provides support throughout the volunteering experience.

Rahul looks for texts about topics that the student might find interesting. He has also been able to do some writing with the participant every week.

“We start putting everything in sentences, then enhancing them, adding quality descriptions timelines, depending on the specifications. Eventually, we edit it, and check for grammar and spelling.”

“You can see what they were able to read when they started and what they are able to read now. It’s not just that they are able to read more complex words or complex texts but the ease with which they are doing it. And, the confidence they have while they are doing it. It’s been rewarding to see someone grow and learn and improve in front of my eyes.”

The Adult Literacy Program is in need of volunteers to teach English-speaking adults language skills, reading and writing, and/or Math at a basic/intermediate level. For a full description of the position, please visit:

Back to top