While the breakfast will, hopefully, serve as an effective fundraiser for the work of Literacy Source (located across the canal at 720 North 34th St), more significant may be the celebration at this breakfast of the organization’s 25th Anniversary. Literacy Source has, for a quarter of a century (so far,) assited adults to become fully self-supportive members of our society.
‘25 Years…And Just Beginning’
“I’m very proud of where we are,” stated Anne Helmholz, Literacy Source Executive Director. They offer free classes, open to the public, due in large part to the generosity of a huge number of volunteers – and a modest staff. “We have people from the community,” she explained, “that really love the community, and want to help.”
Helmholz has been involved with Literacy Source since its inception, and she recently recalled those days in 1986, in a church basement common room, on Phinney Ridge. “We were working primarily with basic skills,” she said. Then, they focused on teaching adults to read. Now, they address the skills clients need to become fully functioning members of our community.
“Think back 25 years,” Helmholz mused, “we had an [IBM] Selectric Typewriter.” Today, they teach computer literacy for those who want to transition from manual labor jobs to something less physically arduous. They aid immigrants in their English language skills, and offer citizenship/civic classes. They still assist in basic reading, as well as providing conversation groups and an adult high school diploma program.
Their clients can obtain through these opportunities the ability to support their families, get involved in their community – sometimes after many decades in the U.S. – and transform into people who give aid rather than receive it. “We find that one-to-one instruction really works,” she said, “and trained volunteers are able to do that beautifully.”
A Community Meal
Their volunteers attend the breakfast, but this gathering gives those who can’t give of their time a chance to give, with their money. Attendees always include business and government leaders, alongside Literacy Source students. Supporters of Literacy Source, the breakfast attendees, often come as “friends tell friends” about the great work of the organization, accomplished daily.
This year, attendees will hear from Nancy Pearl, the former Seattle Public Library Head Librarian and a nationally noted literacy advocate, as the breakfast focuses on the power of story. Two other powerful speakers will be Literacy Source students, who will share inspiring stories about their paths to success.
The decision, to hold a breakfast rather than an auction or Golf tourney, is deliberate. Literacy Source, with clients that represent over 25 countries (and languages,) draws from many cultures, and nearly every one includes the tradition of coming together for a community meal. The decision to hold the meal at SPU also is deliberate. The academic setting continues to inspire the dreams of Literacy Source clients. “Many of our students aspire to attend college,” explained an e-mail from Helmholz, “we want to encourage that connection.”
The list of sponsors (and supporters) of the Literacy Source breakfast is impressive – Walsh Construction WA, First Tech Credit Union, Pemco Insurance, Columbia Bank, Buddy’s Doggie Care, Fremont Chamber of Commerce, Sound Asset Advisors, the Schneidmiller-Vangelos Family, and Fremont Dock Company – but the need for individual donors remains crucial. To raise $60,000, to continue to offer a free education that brings marginalized peoples into the mainstream, Literacy Source will depend upon every donor giving what they can.
Consider attending the breakfast. To reserve a place – and find out more details –e-mail Literacy Source. Contributions at the breakfast, or donations sent to their website directly fund their programs, so consider assisting the work of Literacy Source, and help make this a truly joyous celebration of 25 years of outstanding service!
- Community Support For Literacy
- by Kirby Lindsay, January 28, 2011
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- by Kirby Lindsay, August 22, 2007 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
- A Closer Look: Mayor Visits A Noisy Yet Sweet Fremont
- by Kirby Lindsay, June 14, 2006 in the North Seattle Herald-Outlook
©2011 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.