News & Blog: Advocate Spotlights


Marielle Levert, our 2021 recipient of the Marshall Pitler Volunteer of the Year Award, brings a unique perspective to her tutoring experience with the Literacy Center. In 2015, she and her family moved to Grand Rapids from their native Netherlands. Although she was a fluent English speaker, Marielle could relate our learners’ challenges of adapting to the language and customs of a new country. She set to work immediately connecting with other ex-patriots and English language learners in her adopted home. 

Marielle began tutoring with the Literacy Center soon after she arrived in Grand Rapids. In the last five years, Marielle has worked with seven learners from around the globe. With a background in elementary education, she is an experienced teacher who is committed to helping her learners succeed. 

“Marielle is an outstanding tutor who goes above and beyond for her learners,” writes her Literacy Coordinator, Autumn Jackson. “Her dedication and willingness to do more – whether that means tutoring more hours in a week or introducing her learners to a community event they might enjoy – have helped her make a significant impact on the lives of her learners.” Autumn goes on to add, “Her positive attitude and professional yet energetic approach with learners and tutors alike make her an exceptional volunteer.” 

Marielle does more than just teach English to her learners. She makes sure they have experiences around the city, and has also helped them connect with her “family” in Grand Rapids, an international group of women who gather each week for coffee, English conversation, and fellowship. 

Her former learner, Diane, spoke about her relationship with Marielle at a Literacy Center event in 2016. “I like my tutor because she made an effort to build a meaningful relationship with me. We went to different places to visit. She helped me to learn how to drive. We went shopping. We did a lot of things that helped me improve my English.” 

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