A few years ago I was watching a morning TV show and the gentleman who had cooked during a cooking session on the show was asked to read the cue card that exited the show to a commercial because the hosts were eating his food and had their mouths full. He looked back at the folks directing him to read the card and back at the card a couple times and eventually, tearfully admitted, “I can’t read.”

I still can feel the emotions I felt that day for that great chef. He had been so successful as a restaurant owner, he had celebrities come and enjoy his food and somehow this TV morning show had contacted him and asked him to come and prepare something on their show. And he could not read. And worse, he had to admit it on live TV no less. But he is not alone.

There are 32 million adults in the United States who cannot read. Not that they can not read on a high school level, they just never learned to read. Another 36 million cannot read well enough to get a job. And according to the National Institute for Literacy, those numbers are climbing.

I went to see my son in Seattle a couple of years ago and he took me to what had been referred to as China Town, now it is called the SCID or the Seattle Chinatown International District. It was amazing!

We walked through brightly colored stores and shops with everything from food to the fanciest dinnerware. But repeatedly I felt a little uneasy when we walked into a store that was completely ascribed in Chinese language or numbers. I thought, this must be how it feels to not be able to read in any language.

To not have the ability to direct yourself to a location following street signs. Not able to read a menu in a restaurant and the legal ramifications from not being able to understand speed limit signs or no admission…it would be staggering.

Fortunately, here in Marion County and across the country, there is help for folks who, for whatever reason did not learn to read. Here in Marion County we have the Literacy Volunteers of Marion County.

Literacy Volunteers of Marion County provides free tutoring primarily to adults in basic reading, math, high school equivalency (TASC) preparation, English as a second language and related services. They also tutor children in reading and math.

Their director is Kay Nesselrotte and you can reach her at 304-366-6055 or by emailing them at Ivanmarion@hotmail.com.

I want to encourage you, if you need help reading, with math or if you want to complete your GED, please contact them and begin the steps to a fuller, freer life with the ability to read.

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