Creating new readers with the SLC

Published 8:58 pm Thursday, January 27, 2011

If you’re reading this editorial, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve never experienced the frustration and humiliation that stem from being illiterate. It’s likely that you’ve never had to get someone else to read a set of directions to you so that you could cook your dinner. And you’ve probably never had the experience of being lost because you couldn’t read the street signs around you. But folks who can’t read go through just those sorts of experiences all the time.

It’s hard for most of us to imagine going through life without being able to read. Whether we enjoy it as a pastime or struggle through it as a necessity, reading is one of the things that allow adults to excel in their everyday lives. Reading skills are necessary for the most mundane of tasks in life to the most complex. Life as a nonreader would often be a confusing, isolated existence devoid of many of the cultural connections that define us.

The Suffolk Literacy Council understands. More than that, though, it seeks to change the world for nonreaders by teaching others to turn them into readers. There are many different stories behind the choices that these volunteers made to become literacy tutors, but they share a purpose — to help their neighbors improve their lives by opening their eyes to the written word.

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“There’s a great need out there for literacy,” Sharon DeWitt, tutor coordinator for the literacy council, said during a recent interview. “There are many opportunities in the community, but if you can’t read, how do you know there are opportunities?”

The Literacy Council holds tutor training twice a year or according to the needs of its clients. It provides workbooks and all necessary materials to tutors and clients free of charge, thanks to generous donations.

All of those involved in this effort deserve to be commended — from the adults who decide they finally want to learn to read to the tutors who donate their time to teach the skill to the folks who train the tutors and the people whose donations pay for the student books and tutor training.

Suffolk has dozens of nonprofit organizations that do great work every year. The Suffolk Literacy Council is one of the best.