Dale Howk, left, studies vocabulary words with his volunteer tutor Ron Horndasch during his tutoring session at Educational/Family Services in West Terre Haute, Ind.

Dale Howk learned the hard way that trying to grow up too fast doesn’t pay.

When the now 25-year-old construction worker from Rosedale was attending Riverton Parke High School in Parke County, he said he just wasn’t motivated to do his school work.

“I was more interested in trying to be an athlete. I was more interested making money and trying to be a grown up.

“Then I had to really grow up, and it’s not working out so well,” Howk said of his life since graduating high school.

Recently, Howk decided he wanted to learn to read better, and he sought out help. He was referred by the staff at the local public library to Educational/Family Services (EFS) in West Terre Haute.

For the past five months, Howk has been taking one-hour lessons twice a week at Educational/Family Services. Through one-on-one tutoring, he is working on his reading and math and preparing to take the U.S. military’s entrance/placement test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB). His goal is to make a career of the military.

A sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and a program of Guerin Outreach Ministries, Educational/Family Services is located just outside the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods Campus. EFS provides basic education and GED preparation for adults and tutoring for school-age children. All services are free of charge.

“It’s kind of exciting to go in,” Howk said. He enjoys working on something new each week. “It feels like a real family experience to me. They really care about you, you know,” he said.

“The most rewarding part has been the confidence it has built in me,” Howk said. “I’ve always been a shy reader, and I wouldn’t read out loud. But now I’m confident enough to sit down and read a book and even read out loud. My vocabulary has also increased a lot,” Howk said.

Recently two organizations have taken notice of the good being done at Educational/ Family Services and have stepped forward with grants of support.

Fifth Third Bank donation

Fifth Third Bank recently donated $2,000 to EFS. The money will be used to purchase books for the children in the after-school tutoring program and will allow EFS to purchase ASVAB study manuals for students like Dale who are preparing to enter the military.

“Fifth Third Bank is committed to strengthening and empowering the communities in which we do business. Programs in support of literacy and financial empowerment are critical to achieving this goal,” said Scenario B. Adebesin, senior vice president and manager of community development for Fifth Third Bank of Central Indiana.

“Many of our young children and adults live in poverty due to the lack of a basic education and the inability to read. This problem is further compounded due to the rising high school drop-out rate and the number of students who graduate and lack mastery of basic reading and math skills. The work being done by EFS has a positive impact on changing these statistics and offers a valuable service to other residents who may be in desperate need of these resources,” Adebesin said.

“We believe that a strong and vibrant community is the key to sustainable, economic growth within the region. Fifth Third Bank is pleased to support the programming efforts of EFS and looks forward to building upon this partnership in the future,” she said.

“We are so excited to be chosen for the donation,” said Penny Sullivan, director of Educational/Family Services.

“To have funds to be used for both the children and adult programs is wonderful. We appreciate being the recipient of the money,” Sullivan said.

Hilton Fund grant

The Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters also recently awarded $8000 to Educational/Family Services. This grant money will be used to cover staff salaries and other operational expenses.

Established is 1986, the fund originates from the estate of the late Hilton hotel mogul and philanthropist’s stated wish that works of Roman Catholic Sisters be supported. To qualify for funding, a project must directly serve the poor and disadvantaged and have at least one vowed member of a Roman Catholic congregation of women religious directly involved in a full-time capacity. The Hilton Fund for sisters has awarded over $75 million for the ministries of religious sisters in 130 countries.

As for Howk, he says he would recommend EFS’ educational offerings to anyone.

“I wish I did it a lot sooner,” he said.

For more information on tutoring services offered by Educational/Family Services or for how you can help, call 812-535-4206 or visit www.GuerinOutreachMinistries.org.