Photo courtesy of Margaux & Associates, LLC
Pictured together at the “Shares & Cares” breakfast fundraiser, from left to right, are Dearborn Rotarian and Event Chairperson Rick Enright with Pro-Literacy Detroit representatives Bobette Jackson, volunteer tutor and workshop leader; Margaret Williamson, executive director; Josephine Bell, trainer and outreach coordinator; and Dr. Hassen Hammoud, president of Rotary Club of Dearborn.
DEARBORN – The Rotary Club of Dearborn recently hosted its third annual Shares & Cares breakfast fundraiser at Park Place. The event benefited the programs of Pro-Literacy Detroit, Michigan’s largest literacy agency which provides services to adult learners at no cost.
This year’s event raised more than $2,000.
The mission of Pro-Literacy Detroit is “every resident of Detroit, Highland Park, and Hamtramck should have the opportunity to be an informed citizen, a supportive and involved parent, a viable employee, and a lifelong learner. Pro-Literacy Detroit makes this possible through recruitment, training, innovative, goal-driven tutoring programs.”
More than 9,000 tutors have been trained and 12,000 people taught through Pro-Literacy Detroit programs.
Challenges the organization faces include 47 percent of adults in Detroit are unable to read, 75 percent of unemployed adults have difficulty reading and writing, and 60 percent of the unemployed lack necessary skills to train for high-tech jobs.
Pro-Literacy Detroit offers free individual and group tutoring, English as a Second Language tutoring, technology-based instruction, free books for adults and children, and TV and web tutoring.
Ways to support the organization include volunteering as a tutor, reading to a child, referring eager learners to Pro-Literacy Detroit, donating books, and giving financial support.
Speaking at the breakfast fundraiser, Margaret Williamson, executive director of Pro-Literacy Detroit, described how her organization trains volunteers to be certified reading tutors. Each volunteer is matched with a motivated adult that wants to go back to school or get a job.
Volunteers and adult learners meet once a week in a public location, such as a library or Pro-Literacy offices for two hours of tutoring. The learners are tested prior to starting the program and then every six months. Usually learners progress two to three grade levels in reading within one year. The ultimate aim is to help
people become independent readers, writers, and speakers of English.
Bobette Jackson, an 83-year old volunteer tutor and workshop leader, also spoke at the breakfast. She described herself as on the “downside of the hill.” A member of her church encouraged her to become involved with a forerunner of Pro-Literacy Detroit in late 1990s.
Jackson, who is a retired medical laboratory technologist, said tutoring makes her feel not “over the hill.” Some of her adult learners are in the program because they want to read to a grandchild or read the Bible at church.
Williamson thanked Dearborn Rotary for supporting this 30-year old-organization. The club’s support is part of a Rotary Literacy initiative to alleviate family literacy challenges in Detroit and neighboring communities, and to break the cycle of poverty.
The initiative has also included a Rotary Vocational Training Team involved with a Group Study Exchange from Australia. A member of the Rotary Townsville Sunrise Club from Townsville, Australia, attended the fundraiser.
“Pro-Literacy Detroit changes individuals, the people who read to children, and then the children will be prepared to read,” said Dearborn Rotarian Rick Enright, who organized the Shares & Cares event.
Enright also thanked Rotarians and guests for their support of Pro-Literacy Detroit, including 16 table sponsors. To learn more about Pro-Literacy Detroit go to www.proliteracydetroit.org.