As a part of the Tharrington Smith Staff Community Fund, an employee-directed giving initiative, each member of the staff has picked a specific charity or non-profit organization that they believe enables positive change in the lives of others, and the firm has made a charitable donation to their chosen organization. Today we would like to introduce you to the Literacy Council of Wake County, a benefactor of the Tharrington Smith Staff Community Fund chosen by and introduced to you today by long-time Tharrington Smith legal assistant Martha Countess:
The Literacy Council of Wake County exists totally through monetary donations and volunteer time. Their work makes an enormous difference in the quality of life of so many adults in need, which in turn, benefits our community and our society as a whole. It is an incredibly rewarding experience to be a volunteer. I look forward to meeting my next student. I also worked with a woman from Vietnam who came to America with her family. She was divorced and her kids were in college. It was very important to her and her sons that she become a U.S. Citizen. She had tried several times to obtain her U.S. Citizenship, but was never able to pass the test due to her difficulty with English. We were able to work together on her English and help her to understand many details about American history and culture. This approach to learning helped her to focus specifically on what she needed to learn to become an American citizen. It was a very rewarding experience. Volunteers with the Literacy Council also tutor adults who are learning English as a second language. I joined the Wake Literacy Council as a volunteer many years ago. My first student was an amazing woman, mother and devoted daughter to her father who was very ill. She moved to Wake County with her family and her profession was in nursing. She spoke English, but with a very strong Jamaican accent. She confided in me that even though she had a nursing degree, she had difficulty communicating in English. This caused her great embarrassment with her patients and her co-workers and kept her from advancing in her nursing career. It was important for her to be able to communicate with her patients effectively, relaying accurate information about their condition and calming their fears during their illness. Years later I still get kind messages from this student telling me how our work together changed her life.Adult literacy is a major social problem in America today. It is proportionately high among the poor and minorities. Individuals and society pay a price when so many cannot actively participate in social, political and cultural affairs. The latest statistics show that of 335,891 adults in Wake County, 57,101 of those adults’ literacy skills are at the lowest level causing them great difficulty in performing even the most common everyday tasks. Imagine not being able to read written directions; not being able to go over your child’s homework or instructions from a teacher; not being able to complete a written driving test or fill out a job application.