On May 26th Hamilton Literacy Council (HLC) is launching a blog. As much as the pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives, it has given us pause to reflect on what we do, how we do it, and the importance of being connected with the community.
HLC has been around for over 48 years helping adults in Hamilton meet their ever-evolving literacy needs. With this blog we will share an insider’s look at literacy through the eyes and experience of our program coordinators, Wilma Chopra and Carlyn VanSickle, who will introduce themselves to you to in a bit. As for me, I’m the E.D., and truth be told chocolate comes a close second to reading as something I love.  For years Toblerone bars have been part of our family Christmases.  Why am I sharing this with you? Well, it was not until this year that I discovered the Bear on the logo, and even then, it wasn’t until it was pointed out to me!  Once you know the bear is there, it’s not obscure, but there in plain sight. Literacy issues and challenges are a lot like that!  If you are not aware they are there, or where to look for them, they hide in plain sight.  We hope that you will enjoy our blog, “The Write Stuff”, and that after reading it you will look at literacy through a more illuminating lens, which you will share with others, as you would a Toblerone.

Helen McLeod
Executive Director




Tutor Program Coordinator

Growing up I learned that adventure could take many forms. For my parents, that often-meant impromptu drives, usually to visit friends or acquaintances they had made over the years.  It is because of these happy memories that I enjoy meeting new people, hearing about their life and sharing experiences. This is possibly the reason I can be quite chatty and lose hours talking and laughing with friends, new and old!

I was fortunate that I was given the opportunity to develop my literacy skills. My earliest memories are of being read to, fostering my love of books, the stories within them and the world around me.  Whenever my husband and I travel, I always set aside time to seek out bookstores where I could spend hours if given the chance.  I love talking about books with others, sharing the ones that are heart wrenching, make us laugh out loud and those that inform and educate us.  Reading is an essential part of our lives and something many of us take for granted. During my time at The Hamilton Literacy Council, I am inspired by our students who are determined to learn to read to improve on the life they have made for themselves.  It is also wonderful to share with those who have found joy in reading a book for pleasure, for the very first time.

These days, in my free time, I can often be found reading a book with a tea in hand (or a glass of red wine), nibbling on dark chocolate and my precious kitty, Charlie-girl, curled up on my lap. “If a book is well written, I always find it too short” – Jane Austen



Small Group Coordinator

A few decades ago, I moved from India to Oman.  In the four years I lived there, I had my first taste of Middle Eastern hospitality, culture and cuisine.  The next 16 years were spent in Dubai.  The Emirate is unique in being cosmopolitan with just the right blend of both modern and culturally conservative.  My final destination, I think, is Canada.

During these past years, I have tried to learn, to observe and absorb whatever experiences have come my way.  However, as Socrates said, “The more I learn, the less I realize I know”.  Socrates could not have spoken a truer word (Duh! He was a philosopher).  We learn from the people we meet, receive solace from our family and an outstretched hand from a total stranger.  Each day we are blessed and our lives enriched.

On a less philosophical and more personal note……my Sun Sign is Aquarius which accounts for some of my eccentricities.  I love cheese laden pizza, walks on the beach at sunset, dogs, plants and travelling.  These are some of my favourite things, in no particular order.