K.C. Scott: Your gifts help people learn to read

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 15, 2016

By K.C. Scott

Special to the Salisbury Post

If you’re reading this, then that means you are not one of the 23,500 Rowan County residents who are considered functionally illiterate. This means that there are those in our community that are unable to do things most of us take for granted: read street signs, understand a child’s school supply list, fill out a job application or understand a doctor’s written instructions.

Our students come from all walks of life and have different reasons for participating in our programs. Some of our students are new to the United States. We have students who were lawyers and engineers in their home country, yet are unable to secure gainful employment here due to not being able to speak, read, write or understand English.

We have students who grew up in families where education was not a priority, and this is something they’ve always wanted to do, but never had the time for.

And we have students who fell through the cracks in school and are trying to go back and fill in the gaps.

This month we’ve had two students take and pass the U.S. Citizenship Exam on the first try. Midiala and William are from Cuba and came to the United States in 2009. Their goal when they came to the U.S. was to become citizens, and they put in the work to make that happen. Midiala has been working with our wonderful tutor, Cindy Oakes, for just over a year, and William started with her in June. We wouldn’t be able to run our programs without our volunteer tutors.

The Rowan County Literacy Council partnered with the Rowan County United Way over 20 years ago to be able to reach the largest amount of people possible. Thanks to the United Way’s annual funding, we don’t charge a fee to participate in our programs, we are able to purchase needed books, supplemental teaching materials and other program supplies, and we can use updated technology to assess the progress of our students to ensure they are getting the maximum benefit from our programs.

The United Way’s 2016-2017 campaign is currently under way with a goal of $1.5 million. The funds from the campaign go towards the programs from 16 different member agencies and are carefully distributed using community members in an allocations process.

Your gift to United Way truly makes a difference in the lives of our students and their families, which make up our community.

K.C. Scott is executive director of the Rowan County Literacy Council.