News & Blog: Learner Stories


For Lili and her husband Omary, literacy is a family affair.

The couple, both born in the Congo, struggled to find jobs in West Michigan that would support their family of five and Lili Photo copy copyprovide meaningful work. They each felt that their English literacy levels limited their ability to work in their desired fields—Omary as an electrician and Lili in healthcare. 

That’s when Omary discovered the Literacy Center. He enrolled in the Construction Core program, a partnership with the Literacy Center and Grand Rapids Community College’s M-TEC. Soon after, Lili enrolled in a similar class for Certified Nurse Aid (CNA). Both of these classes taught the necessary job skills with the support of an English language instructor from the Literacy Center.

These classes, like all of the Literacy Center programs, are designed to meet adult learners where they are in their lives. The Literacy Center provides instruction that fits in with adults’ priorities as breadwinners and caregivers. 

Omary Portrait 2This structure worked well for Omary and Lili. Two weeks into the Construction Core class, Omary was offered a pre-fab position, and he has moved into an electrician apprentice role with the company.

Lili passed her CNA test, and is looking forward to starting a new job at Spectrum Health this winter. Lili found that her CNA certification opened up many more job opportunities for her. "[With the CNA] you can get a job in a hospital… anywhere… anything that has to do with medical. It’s very easy. I do remember when I tried to work at the hospital without having CNA license, they could not get you a job. And now you can."

They are now able to provide for their children, doing jobs that they love.

Lili and Omary’s experiences are not unique. The Literacy Center provides instruction to almost 800 adult learners each year. Your gift to the Literacy Center this holiday season is an investment in families like Omary and Lili’s. Please give generously. 

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