By Ron Hayes
Steven Leveen always assumed he’d volunteer at some point with the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition.
As the co-founder and CEO of Levenger, the Delray Beach-based purveyors of “tools for serious readers,” words are both his livelihood and his passion.
Of course, he’d become a literacy volunteer.
Once the kids were out of the house.
“Then my two sons had to fulfill a community service requirement in high school,” Leveen remembers.
Cal, his oldest, volunteered at a child-care center for the working poor, Corey at the Boys & Girls Club.
“I was a little suspicious of obligatory volunteerism,” Leveen says, “but I was very impressed. I had to change my opinion.”
Now Cal’s at Yale, Corey’s at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute — and Leveen’s been a literacy volunteer for more than a year.
“I call it Tutor Tuesday,” he says.
Every week, from 5:30 to 8 p.m., he’s at the Village Academy in Delray Beach, helping adults — mostly working, mostly Haitian — learn to read and write English.
“Everybody in this class is here because they want to be,” he said before class one recent Tuesday evening. “They’re all working at least one job, and then they run home, clean up and come here to work their brains out for a couple of hours. How can you not want to help them?”
Leveen is one of about 14 volunteer tutors, says Darlene Kostrub, the coalition’s executive director, but rare in that, like his students, he has a day job, too.
“Most of our volunteers are retirees,” Kostrub notes. “So Steve’s proof that you don’t have to wait until you retire to get involved. Why postpone the fun?”
Tutor Tuesdays are not Leveen’s first volunteer work in Delray Beach. For eight years he served on the board of the Delray Beach Public Library.
Since 1998, Leveen has lived along the Intracoastal Waterway in coastal Delray Beach with Lori, his wife of 27 years. Now the boys are off to college, but the couple is staying put.
“We’ve lived in Delray Beach for 11 years,” he says, “and we absolutely love it. I kayak on the Intracoastal, and there’s a natural beauty. We’re able to walk to an authentic downtown, and we’ve got a beach that’s fairly uncontaminated by high-rises. It’s a wonderful place to have a business, and I sure feel good when I’m driving home from Tutor Tuesdays.”
Steven Leveen was nominated to be a Coastal Star by Darlene Kostrub, executive director of the Palm Beach County Literacy Coalition. For information about literacy tutoring, call 800-273-1030.