Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Help Us Fight Illiteracy in Our Community
We're one of those "points of light" politicians love to talk about when they're telling us not to look to our government for any money. Take care of each other, they say, smiling, because isn't that what America's all about? Oh, and vote for us, they add.
We took them at their word. A bunch of us non-politicians. Some of us are retired, some are still working to feed ourselves and our families. We started a "point of light" to help people who for one reason or another didn't finish their basic public school education. We're helping them learn to read and write, and do 'rithmetic. No hickory stick. These students come to us for help because they've reached a point in their lives when they understand the value of learning. The only "compulsory attendance" these adults know is the one they've committed to themselves by their own choice.
Adult Literacy on the Middle Peninsula is a meeting of commitments, theirs and ours. A new light appears each time these commitments come together.
The beauty of it is, everybody's in it for free. We don't charge our students a nickel; nobody pays us a nickel. It happens because all of us who do this -- the helping and the learning -- are doing it because we can. Simple as that.
Be nice if I could say it's all for free, but, as the politicians also love to say, "There is no free lunch". That's a lie, actually, as politicians eat free all the time...but that's another story, not ours. We do have expenses. Books and study materials, a monthly phone bill and gasoline for our director to cover our territory in her little red car. She's on the road practically every day, making contacts in the community, rustling up support, and tutoring students. Public libraries in the counties we serve -- Gloucester, Mathews and Middlesex -- graciously let us use their meeting rooms, as we have no permanent place of our own.
We operate on a shoestring, but sometimes that string gets stretched pretty tight. We're in Virginia, but anyone who wishes to help us is welcome to do so, wherever they live. Literacy benefits everyone (except maybe certain politicians). We hold raffles for donated prizes, we sell donated pizza gift cards, we hold an annual spelling bee, we accept direct donations.
Perhaps our least painful means of taking pressure off that shoestring comes from our partnership with Peace Frogs, a local clothing company that's known around the world for its environment-friendly attitude. Peace Frogs gives us 15% of all purchases made from their online gift store, if it is accessed through the special URL link they've dedicated to our group. If you'd like to see what they offer, click on the link. Join our point of light: Peace Frogs