Monday, February 23, 2009

Inaugural Post

Welcome to the inaugural post to the Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) blog. We are excited to have yet another way to reach our readers and supporters. Since 1961 LIFT has been teaching adults to read for free - LIFT reached more than 8,000 adult learners in the past year. That is amazing considering LIFT only has a staff of 9 full time and 4 part time employees. We couldn't do it without the 500+ volunteers who teach our classes for us and it is our wonderful volunteers that I want to praise in our first post.

I have been in the non profit world for several years (some day I will share the story about how I ended up working for non profits - suffice it to say, I absolutely LOVE what I do) and I don't know of many organizations that have more than 500 ACTIVE volunteers. Most organizations would give their right arm for one fifth of that number. Our volunteers give tirelessly - they volunteer at least two hours of their time each week (and some give 8 hours a week), not counting travel time to help adults learn to read. Some of them have been volunteering with LIFT for more than ten years. You would think that the majority of our volunteers are or were teachers in their paying jobs, but that is not the case. We have doctors, lawyers, retirees, engineers, accountants, community activists, domestic goddesses - our volunteers come from all walks of life. What brings them together is their intense desire to help adults who for whatever reason did not or could not learn to read when they were younger.

Teaching someone to read is not glamorous and it isn't easy or quick. Sometimes your students have to drop out of class for a while because life gets in the way. But I think our volunteers will tell you it is the most rewarding time they spend. When you teach someone to read, you are giving a lifetime solution to a lifelong problem. Illiteracy is generational - illiterate parents begat illiterate children. Teach one adult to read and you better the lives of their entire family. People can re-offend, fall off the wagon, end up back in rehab, but once you teach someone to read, they are never a non-reader. So, thank you to the LIFT volunteers - because of you learning to read is a lifetime fix.