Jonathan Cohen

Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner

OC Community Resources
OC READ - Adult Literacy Program

Jonathan Cohen

Jonathan Cohen with OC Read staff. Pictured from left to right:
FFL/Outreach Coordinator Barbara Neder, Assessor Carol Tsai,
Honoree Jonathan Cohen, Program Coordinator Tangela Ashe,
Program Administrative Manager Matthew Le & Tutor/Learner
Coordinator Rebecca Braun.

ACTION: What does the volunteer do?

Jonathan Cohen began serving as a volunteer tutor with OC READ adult literacy program in April 2015. He is an exceptional individual who immediately took his volunteer involvement to the next level by spearheading the development of an online volunteer discussion group model.  Jonathan realized that many of his fellow tutors shared an interest in connecting online with other volunteers who work with adult literacy learners. Interestingly, OC READ staff had been exploring the feasibility of an online discussion group, and through Jonathan’s support, this option is closer than ever to becoming a reality. Jonathan tapped into his professional expertise to develop a customized program that includes all of the desired features for an online discussion group, while also addressing potential obstacles and incorporating safeguards.

NEED: What community need does the volunteer address?

OC READ serves adult literacy learners throughout Orange County. Tutors and learners meet one-on-one in their local libraries or other community locations to work toward individual reading and writing goals; however, the volunteers lack a forum to discuss relevant issues with their peers. Since volunteers are located throughout Orange County and lead busy lives with hectic schedules, it’s extremely difficult for them to connect through face-to-face meetings. Volunteer tutors often express an interest in participating in a forum to coordinate activities, share ideas, problem-solve common challenges and interact with their literacy community online. Jonathan was able to create a dedicated platform model that allows privacy to coexist with oversight. Once the prototype was created, Jonathan devoted countless hours to perfecting, testing and enhancing the product, which now includes opportunities for participants to ask questions, create surveys, share materials and resources and much, much more.

IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteer's service?

The online discussion group prototype that Jonathan created demonstrates the viability of such a forum and has paved the way for the project to be developed in-house. In addition, the excitement and support that the project has generated among staff and current tutors illustrate Jonathan's understanding of the needs of the literacy community in Orange County, and his insight into how to best address those needs.

INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteer unique/special?

Throughout the development of OC READ’s online discussion group prototype, Jonathan has been an inspiration to others. His enthusiasm and drive kept the project on target and consistently moving forward. Jonathan returned emails and phone calls without delay, which guaranteed that new concepts and features were incorporated into the project model within minutes. In addition, his surprising wit and humor heightened the excitement for everyone, especially with test posts and threads such as "the cat in the tutoring session."   

Within his volunteer role, Jonathan has demonstrated remarkable passion and dedication. His efforts are greatly appreciated and illustrate the importance of volunteer involvement in addressing community needs and challenges and in making a difference for others.

Thank you and congratulations to Jonathan Cohen, Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winner!

Click here to find out how you can volunteer with OC READ.