LEADing the way to literacy

07/10/2014 7:57 PM

07/10/2014 7:59 PM

Susan Vodicka’s July 5 Other Views columns, Cuts, layoffs hurt successful literacy program, was about the importance of the LEAD program (Literacy for Every Adult in Dade).

I was a LEAD tutor through the Miami-Dade County Public Library back in the ’80s when it first began.

My student was a 23-year-old woman who read at the second-grade level when we started the program.

She had dropped out of school at the age of 15. She was in the eighth grade at that time and had a lot of trouble trying to read instructions on medicine bottles. The rest of her family read at a lower level, so she couldn’t ask them for help.

After finishing the classes, she was able to read all the instructions, except for one word. She looked that up in the dictionary to find out the meaning of the word.

I saw her years later. She ran up to me and hugged me because the whole world had opened up to her after learning how to read. The Miami News even wrote an article about us in 1988.

I’ve been volunteering in our community since I was 10. That’s 56 years, and I think that the volunteer work I did in the LEAD program was probably the most important that I ever did.

That program has been gutted now for budgetary reasons. It’s a travesty, because our county still has a high percentage of illiterate residents. Vodicka wrote that it’s 52 percent. She has her facts straight. I checked it out. People don’t believe it, but it’s true.

If the funding isn’t restored, then that number will go even higher.

I hope the Miami-Dade County Commission restores all the funding to our libraries, because they are a necessary part of our culture.

Sara B. Leviten, North Miami

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