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Retired teacher Greg Smith wins volunteer of year for Laubach Literacy Council

Greg Smith, a native of Thunder Bay and a retired school teacher who has been living in Corner Brook for nine years, was both surprised and honoured to receive the 2017 volunteer of the year award for the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council.
Greg Smith was both surprised and honoured to receive the 2017 volunteer of the year award for the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council. - Dave Kearsey

Greg Smith wanted to lend a helping hand in the community when he moved to Corner Brook after retiring from a teaching career.

Helping students achieve success in the classroom was something the 68-year Thunder Bay native did most of his life so when he saw a Laubach Literacy advertisement for tutors in The Western Star seven years ago he decided to play a part in helping those who wanted help.

Over the past seven years he’s provided tutorial services for a number of people and he was involved with teaching students in the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program before it was axed by the provincial government.

His desire to help others hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Smith was pleasantly surprised and honoured when he was notified that he was chosen 2017 volunteer of the year for the Newfoundland and Labrador Laubach Literacy Council.

He’s honoured by the recognition he received for his efforts, but was quick to point out it provided him with a great sense of satisfaction to play a small part in helping somebody improve their reading and writing skills.

“It’s a lot easier teaching people who actually want to get ahead. Sometimes teenagers, they don’t even want to look at you,” Smith said.

One of the people who benefited from his volunteer time was Corner Brook’s Johnny Coombs, who was selected the 2017 award for student of the year for showing exemplary performance and outstanding contribution.

Smith forged a friendship with Coombs by spending one day a week at the Corner Brook Library helping the 61-year-old Corner Brook man become better educated.

It’s time spent with Coombs that reassures Smith he’s making a difference so he’s only too happy to be able to volunteer his time.

“He really put his heart and mind into what he was doing,” Smith said of his time working with Coombs. “He struggled, but he kept on doing it. He’s the most persistent fella I’ve ever seen.”

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