Letter: Literacy Volunteers deserves your support
On Sept. 18 and 19, mouse clicks will mean money for local nonprofits. The third annual Amazing Raise, a virtual, Richmond-based fundraising competition, will put dozens of Gloucester and Mathews organizations head-to-head for the chance to win donations and prizes.
Which noble cause is urgent enough to merit the attention of donors? According to Literacy Volunteers of Gloucester (LVG), one participating organization, the answer can be found without leaving your neighborhood.
A 2008-2010 report by the U.S. Census Bureau stated that 16 percent of Gloucester County residents between the ages of 18 and 24 have less than a high school diploma or its equivalent. For county residents over 25, that percentage is 12.6. The poverty rate for Gloucester’s 25-and-older population—a group for whom poverty level is determined by educational status—is at a staggering 26.3 percent.
National statistics show that areas with a low literacy rate are susceptible to a variety of other social and economic problems.
The literacy/poverty connection on the Middle Peninsula has been a point of focus for LVG since its inception in the early 1980s. LVG volunteers combat illiteracy by providing free tutoring for the GED test, a service that increases adult learners’ chances of academic and career success.
One example is Travis Fisher, a 2013 GED graduate from LVG’s program, who passed his test with flying colors.
"They are volunteers," said Fisher of his tutors. "They are giving their time and energy to help others be successful. I can’t stress that enough. Everyone should know that there is help out there."
Volunteers also help non-native English speakers improve their English, and teach basic skills classes for inmates at the Gloucester County Jail.
Aside from bringing about the anticipated Amazing Raise event, September is also National Literacy Month. Organizations like Literacy Volunteers of Gloucester, whose services are free of charge, rely on donations to pay for pencils, paper, workbooks, calculators, computers, software and other overhead expenses.
To find out how you can support local literacy in the Amazing Raise, visit http://www.literacyvolunteersof-gloucester.org.