Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of stories that explain what the various programs that are funded by United Way do to help this community.
Literacy Connections helps adults of all ages improve their lives through improving their reading skills and giving them the basics of finances.
“Through our adult and family literacy program, we work with adults 18 and older to help them through one-on-one tutoring improve their reading skills so they can attain their goals,” said Suzie Acree, executive director.
“Their goals may include everything from getting a GED and/or higher education beyond that, improving on their job and even more quality of life-type goals like being more involved in their church, reading to their grandchildren and that sort of thing.”
She said the organization uses evidence-based curriculum, and all of its tutors are volunteers.
United Way pays for curriculum, volunteer training and staff to manage the program and track all data to be able to report on the outcomes of the program.
The program usually has an enrollment of between 40 and 50 people at any given time.
“We have just recently had a woman graduate with her high school eqiulavlency at college and is going on to health care education to be an example to her children,” Acree said.
“We saw another woman graduate from the home health aid program at college after getting her GED here, and has gone out into the workforce.”
Another participant is now reading in front of his church members and participating more in church events because he is now comfortable reading the Bible, Acree said.
“For somebody going through this process and gaining skills and then being able to help their children with their. homework, it’s very rewarding,” she said.
The other program United Way funds at Literacy Connections is Bank on Wayne.
It’s a basic financial literacy program. Literacy Connections partners with 11 banks to help adults with things like budgeting, managing checking and savings accounts and balancing a bank account.
“We also have the very important topic of managing credit and why credit is so important,” Acree said.
“During the summer, we had a lot of young people come through the program who were getting a job for the first time. It was a golden opportunity to set them up right from the beginning.
“When you’re looking at young people they are learning some veery important financial lessons to save them from the position that some adults in the program are in.”
Acree said about 125 people go through the Bank on Wayne program each year.
“The program is amazing,” Acree said.
“One lady in the program was living in public housing, and she really embraced the budgeting part of the program.
“She saw it as a tool to make a life plan to move out of the position she was in. She got additional hours at work and saved up for things like a reliable car. Eventually she moved out of public housing into her own apartment and upgraded her car.”
Acree said the woman was also able to raise her credit score from 400 to over 700.
Not only does Literacy Connections operate these two programs for adults, but also partners with other United Way agencies to help them.
It is a pipeline to Wayne Community College so people can continue improving themselves.
And it partners with a lot of other different organizations in the community to help people be successful in life.