LIMA — So, what’s in a word? Everything. Many people can’t read. It’s estimated that in the United States there are more than 30 million adults who cannot read, write or do basic math above a third-grade level.
There is help out there.
The Northwest Ohio Literacy Council has been helping adults become more literate and, in turn, help change their lives in a positive way.
“The literacy council has been doing the same thing for 37 years in the Lima area now, and that is teaching adults to read. Unfortunately, one in six adults in our area read at about a third-grade level or below,” said Ken Blanchard, executive director for the Northwest Ohio Literacy Council. “As you can imagine, for those of us that read for a living or read for enjoyment, it’s impossible to live in today’s world being functionally illiterate. There’s just too much to know, too much going on.”
To help raise funds for the literacy council, each year the group hosts a Scrabble tournament at the Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center’s Auxiliary Conference Center.
“With the literacy council, words are important. That’s what we do. This is a unique Scrabble event, where all the tiles were placed face up, and then we have 20-minute rounds to put together as many words and points as you can. Those accumulate into four rounds and turn out a winner,” Blanchard said.
A number of sponsors make the event possible “too many to mention,” according to Blanchard.
“We only do two fundraisers a year. This is the only one where we actually look for a community sponsorship. We’ve got a lot of good sponsors this year, as usual,” he said.
The organization can always use more volunteers.
“We’re almost always looking for tutors, no special requirements needed. All you have to do is want to share your love of reading with another adult,” Blanchard said.
Even more importantly, they need people who need help to come forward.
“It’s not easy to walk up and say, ‘I need help learning to read,’” Blachard said. “We really look to the community to be on the lookout and be aware of those folks that need help, whether it’s in a job situation or family situation, a health situation, anything where it shows up. We’re starting a new program with the Lima Police Department because they run into a lot of folks that need this assistance.”
For more information about the Northwest Ohio Literacy Council, call 419-223-0252 or visit online at limaliteracy.net.