When I first started working at the Literacy Center of West Michigan in 2015, it did not take long for me to figure out that adult literacy meant more than words. For many learners, literacy is about connection. Literacy is about doing that thing that they’ve been wanting to do for years; it’s about having a conversation with the person at the grocery store checkout; it's about reading to their grandchildren; it’s about being a part of their community in a way that makes them feel welcome. Literacy is about trust.
Learners come to the Literacy Center with the dream that we can help them reach their goal. There are many things that go through a person’s head when they come to the Literacy Center: What will they think of me? Will this be worth my time? Will this help me reach my goals?
When we are developing programs at the Literacy Center, we aren’t asking learners what they can’t do, but instead what they want to achieve. It is for this reason that our mission statement is “bringing about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy.” Literacy is a key to power. It can help a person vote or become a citizen. It can help a person in their job. It can help a person pass their driving test for the first time.
There is a phrase that Wendy uses at the Literacy Center. This phrase has become something of a motto at the Literacy Center: we are strengthening the fabric of our society. Typically, this is in reference to the visceral connection formed between a volunteer tutor and a learner. As someone who works closely with the Literacy Center’s classroom-based programs, I see this connection occur when learners from all different countries are sharing each other’s victories: getting their first job, celebrating a baby, becoming a citizen, earning a GED, or something as simple as pronouncing a difficult word correctly.
Today, on Giving Tuesday, we celebrate the assets of all the adult learners who come to the Literacy Center to reach their goals. We celebrate their successes – whether big or small – and we celebrate the steps they are taking toward their hard-fought goals.
Join us on our mission of bringing about a just and vibrant West Michigan through the power of literacy. Your gift will not only help a learner to reach their goals, but it will also help to strengthen the fabric of our society one relationship at a time. Your gift can be made here: http://literacycenterwm.org/give. All donations made on GivingTuesday will be matched by Lake Michigan Credit Union. Thank you.
To hear a personal message from our learners, expressing what literacy means to them, visit here.