There are many reasons adults might enroll in a literacy program. Some want to learn how to complete important documents from the government or their children’s school. Many are inspired by the birth of a child or the death of a love one. Others have a goal to read a book before they die. Whatever the motivation, the desire is the same—to live a better life with greater opportunities. Adult learners can turn to organizations like the Sonoma County Library (SCL) Adult Literacy Program for the support they need to reach their greatest potential.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of SCL’s free adult literacy classes. The program provides services in basic reading and writing, family literacy, ESL, civics, and inmate tutoring through one-on-one assistance and satellite classroom instruction. Over 400 students have been helped this year by SCL’s services, including 40-year-old Jeffrey George, from Port of Spain, in Trinidad and Tobago. When Jeffrey was 7, and the middle child of 11 siblings, his mother abandoned the family. At age 9, his father was imprisoned, and by 12 he had dropped out of school.
Jeffrey learned how to navigate the world around him and how to survive without learning how to read or write. His creativity and musical talents helped him travel the world and support himself. However, when Jeffrey started a family, he knew he wanted a better life for his children. He enrolled in the SCL Adult Literacy Program two years ago and has received one-on-one tutoring from instructor Laura Owens on the alphabet, reading, writing, and spelling. With his improved skills, Jeffrey has been able to pass his driver’s license test, secure a business license, and open his own landscaping business.
This fall, Jeffrey received an award from California’s Outreach and Technical Assistance Network for his achievements in adult learning. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment is being able to read to his four children. The seeds of literacy and hope have been planted for Jeffrey, his children, and the Santa Rosa community to harvest brighter futures.
Sonoma County Library Adult Literacy Program is a longtime ProLiteracy member. Visit the Sonoma County Library website for more information about the program.