Read This…Because You Can!

(April 11, 2011) Whether its reading a chapter of “Harry Potter” to your child, Googling the internet gathering helpful facts or managing all the aspects of your busy job—we rely on our ability to read countless times every day. 

Now imagine you can’t read, or at least you can’t read well enough to understand complicated sentences and keep pace with the demands of our fast-paced, information-centric world.

Really try to imagine that. It would change your life completely, wouldn’t it?

Understanding how illiteracy affects adults, families and our entire community, Literacy Volunteers of Central CT(LVCC), the YWCA of New Britain and New Britain Adult Literacy collaborated to create change. Together they created the Central CT Family Literacy Center (CCFLC).  Other partners include the New Britain Public Library, New Britain Family Resource Centers and the Consolidated School District of New Britain.

The Center officially opened its doors October 4th of 2010, and now, six months later, already has many success stories to tell. 

 Carmen Colon (age 30 with children ages 9, 6 and 4) and Sheila Reyes (age 28 with children ages 8, 3 and 2) are two hard-working moms who have been attending the Center since the program began. Neither Carmen nor Sheila has their high school diploma, and both women agree they must obtain their GED to get the jobs they know can change their lives and their children’s lives too.

Carmen says, “I signed up for the Central CT Family Literacy Center because I wanted to feel like a role model for my kids.” Carmen heard about the program from some women who were talking about it at her son’s school. 

She wants her children to understand now how important education is. “In the past I had trouble helping my kids with homework, but now I feel more powerful to help my kids. I am more confident. I want my children to feel like their mom didn’t let them down. I want them to say, “If Mommy can do it we can do it too!”  Carmen’s goals include getting her GED, going to school for culinary arts and opening her own restaurant.

Sheila feels more positive about life now that she is participating in the CCFLC. She is meeting new people and learning from others. Sheila also feels better now about helping her kids with their homework. “Before math was hard. Now it’s my favorite subject.” Sheila wants to get her GED and then has plans for college. “I am the only one of my friends that didn’t go to school. I want a future for me and my kids.”

“The plan to open this new family literacy center for mothers with children under age eight came from a strategic planning session last year that was part of a family literacy initiative led by LVCC and funded by the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain and the Christine E. Moser Foundation,” explains Darlene Hurtado, Executive Director of Literacy Volunteers of CT. “The family literacy initiative focuses on low literate families in New Britain, Southington, Plainville and Berlin. The goal is to bring programs and resources together to help these families, support their children's success in school and improve family self sufficiency.”

Both Carmen and Sheila are getting the help they need to improve their lives through the Center’s pre-GED classes.  The Center also offers English for Speakers of other Languages classes, Parenting for Academic Success classes, classes for parents and children together and a play and learn program for children while their parents take classes.

Carmen expressed…and Sheila agreed, “We are not getting any younger. We need to do this now. It’s never too late. It’s always the right time.”

That’s a thought we would all do well to keep in mind.  Especially when it comes to helping others--it’s always the right time.

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