This is how some people live right here in our own community. In Sullivan County, about 14,525 adults ages 16 and older have less than adequate literacy skills, according to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
Literacy is the ability to read, comprehend, and use written information in our daily lives. When the world of literacy opens up to someone, a brighter future emerges… one with more job opportunities, social skills and independence.
Supported by a group of trained and caring volunteers, the Literacy Council of Kingsport helps individuals create better futures with programs that address diverse literacy needs in the community: a basic literacy program for adults, a program for English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), and a children’s literacy program.
"Most people come here because they want to find or keep a job, improve their parenting skills or obtain U.S. citizenship," said Nada Weekley, Literacy Council executive director. "We want people to know our services are here to help them."
Last year, 79 adult students received Literacy Council services. On average, it takes 80 to 100 hours a year for an adult student to go up one reading level. Weekley’ s student of six years has progressed from a first-grade to a solid sixth-grade reading level.
Volunteers are crucial to the program and more are always needed. The Literacy Council provides a free full day training session for volunteers. They participate in a tutor simulation to help answer any questions they may have about working with students. And they have access to various materials to assist them.
Volunteers are asked to commit to an hour or two a week for 9 to 12 months. This ensures consistent learning and stability for the student. Of course, there is flexibility within the committed timeframe and Weekley commented that they are willing to work around job and vacation schedules.
"We want to thank our volunteers and the community for supporting the goals of the Literacy Council," said Weekley. "Literacy changes lives, and your support makes that change possible."
The Basic Literacy Program for Adults serves individuals ages 18 and older who are reading at a fifth grade or below reading level. The agency also assists slightly higher reading level students with GED preparation and reading comprehension skills. Students entering the program take an assessment to determine their reading level. Each student is asked to set goals, and some already have a list of what they want to be able to read at the end of the program. Assessments and goal-setting recur each year.
The ESOL program is for students just learning to speak English. Citizenship materials are available for those who desire to become a U.S. Citizen. In the children’s program, local schools can request the service of a Literacy Council tutor to work with children in the classroom who are behind in their reading skills.
The Literacy Council’s services are free and students are not charged for the curriculum materials. Because of this, the agency relies heavily on funding through grants and donations.
There is also a fun event coming soon where community members can help. The seventh annual Savvy SCRABBLE® Social Game Night Fundraiser is taking place on Friday, March 22, in the Garden Room at The Club at Ridgefields. Check in and social will be at 6 p.m. and game play begins at 6:30 p.m. Up to three rounds of bracketed play will be followed by a championship game. Player prizes will be awarded, and there will be hors d'oeuvres, door prizes and a silent auction with many items, including a P. Buckley Moss framed print.
All proceeds from this event benefit the Literacy Council of Kingsport. Anyone interested in sponsoring a table, individual registration, or a gaze and graze spectator ticket, call 423-392-4643 or email email@example.com.
Literacy Council of Kingsport is a United Way agency affiliated with ProLiteracy.