Literacy for Life: Volunteers gather to fight illiteracy |

Literacy for Life: Volunteers gather to fight illiteracy

Teri Vance

You don’t often hear about illiteracy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a problem.

It’s shame, said literacy volunteer Jan Whitemore, that keeps sufferers hidden in the shadows.

“They don’t admit they can’t read because they’re embarrassed,” she said.

Whitemore, director of Carson City Literacy Volunteers, is joining other literacy advocates to bring awareness to the issue.

After a successful campaign last year, the Nevada Appeal is teaming this year with the Carson City Library and community volunteers for the Literacy for Life initiative. Throughout the six weeks, the Nevada Appeal will run stories each Wednesday focusing on community efforts to improve literacy.

“Our first Literacy for Life effort last year was very successful,” said Nevada Appeal publisher Niki Gladys. “By spotlighting local literacy groups and the impact they’ve had on our community, we helped gain more students and volunteers for these groups. We also raised important funds for the News in Education program as well as several local literacy organizations by holding a Literacy for Life golf tournament.”

The library was happy to become a partner this time around, said director Sara Jones.

“We think it’s great,” she said. “I think it’s really important for all of the community to understand that reading is really necessary for all aspects of life, from little kids all through adulthood.”

Throughout the next six weeks, the library will be hosting several events to promote literacy, including a visit with local author Terri Farley on Oct. 2.

The featured event will be providing every public school student with a library card beginning next month, based on a program out of Salinas, Calif.

Jones said that by giving every student access to the library, it increases future chances at success.

“The world in terms of information and how you process it and use it is really complex,” she said. “The library is a great place to come to understand that complexity.”

The campaign will culminate with a weekend of fun events.

The second annual Literacy for Life golf tournament begins at 9 a.m. Oct. 15 at Thunder Canyon Golf Course. Funds raised will support effective community programs created to teach adults to read, as well as providing newspapers to area schools.

The Nevada Appeal received a $2,000 award from its parent company, Swift Communications, for last year’s campaign. The money will go to the Carson City Library Foundation and the ESL In-Home Program of Northern Nevada.

On Oct. 16, an all-day festival will cap off the festivities, with special story times, food, drinks, live music and entertainers.

Statistics indicate that about 13 percent of Carson City’s population can’t read well enough to identify an intersection on a map, and studies show that illiteracy is directly linked to higher rates of poverty and crime and lower rates of employment and income levels.

Gladys wants to change that.

“The most important goal we have as a community news organization is to make a positive difference in our community,” she said. “Our Literacy for Life campaign will tell the story of how illiteracy impacts our quality of life here. Reading is the foundation for all other education and we often take it for granted. But, for those without these skills, life is difficult and options are limited.

“It’s our hope that by focusing on literacy each year, we’ll identify ways to improve our literacy rate, which is an important first step in eradicating poverty in our community.”