It's a program 8 years strong and one that reaches deep into the needs of the community in so many ways, it can literally make your head spin. But when you stop and think about the importance of literacy and how much even just the basics of it come in to play when you apply all that it is to daily life, Read Muskegon is making an impact on lives right here and now, as well as for generations to come. The end of illiteracy is the goal and the path there is as wide as it can be and when you know the facts about just how many are functionally illiterate here in Muskegon and then to a national level, you have to stop in absolute amazement at the amount of work that Read Muskegon has cut out for them.
From Read Muskegon's website - "21,000 adults living in Muskegon County would struggle to read this sentence. According to the State of Literacy in America, 18% of Muskegon County residents 16 years or older function at the lowest literacy level. The term functional illiteracy refers to those individuals who, even when knowing how to read and write simple phrases, do not have the basic aptitudes to satisfy the demands of their daily needs nor to develop themselves personally and professionally. In 2014, 61.76% of the learner’s being tutored by Read Muskegon volunteers read at or below a 4th grade level and 20.56% read at or below a 1st grade level. Illiteracy is not just about reading, it’s at the root of what keeps many adults stuck in the cycle of poverty. The ability to read impacts almost every aspect of someone’s life." It's truly shocking to see numbers like this. These are friends and neighbors that struggle with this silent problem and most of us have no idea.
There are a number of ways to be involved. Myself personally, I spent about a year in the literacy program at the Muskegon County Jail. Yes, the reading part was important as we discuss in the video today but there was another element too. It was a great thing to be a part of and the door will always remain open to a return, it's really that important. Like anything though, the pandemic has played a major factor into all things Read Muskegon. From their up close and personal tutoring to getting some of their tutors who are a little on the older side up to speed on technology that can help them do their work. Connectivity for those who can't afford internet or devices, inability to use spaces that were once open, plenty of challenges to be met, and they have done so methodically, efficiently and with the most attention to the needs as possible.
With the inability to host the traditional fundraisers like they have in the past, Read Muskegon has some online adventure going on! You can link over to their website and find out the details, play along with some of the activities they have built special for this event as well as learn more about the program and the impact it's had. You are also encouraged to make a gift. $5-$500 is fine with Read Muskegon and as you'll hear from Executive Director Melissa Moore, that contribution is more than just a hand out, it's a serious investment in the future. Take a listen.
It's so very important. Illiteracy is a silent problem. The stigma, and shame surrounding it are real and those who work to help fight it, they face challenges they never imagined. Those who live with it, face life in terms most of us can never even imagine. I have seen it first hand, to watch a man who's never been able to read...all the way into his late 60's finally have his moment and be able to read and write, it's a life changing experience for all involved. You can visit the Read Muskegon website by clicking below to learn more. Our thanks to Melissa Moore for the time in coming on today.