Club Assembly is combined with literacy spotlight
Head of the Trident Literacy Association shed light on local illiteracy challenges
July 13, 2004 – – Today Mark Smith conducted his first meeting, a Club Assembly, as Club President. As part of the Club Assembly, each of the new Directors made a brief presentation about their goals for the coming year and thanked those Rotarians who have agreed to serve on various committees. Smith also identified a number of club-wide goals for the coming year including: focusing on literacy; holding a fundraiser; showcasing members’ workplaces to fellow members; establishing a sister club relationship with a Rotary club in another country; and substantially increasing the base of the Charleston Rotary Fund by raising $100,000.00.
After the Club Assembly portion of the meeting concluded, Eileen Chepenik, the Executive Director of the Trident Literacy Association (“TLA”), presented Club members with frightening statistics about illiteracy in our own community. For example, Chepenik said that 25% of the people in our community are “functionally illiterate.” These individuals cannot do basic tasks such as reading the labels on medicine bottles, reading the questions on a driver’s license exam, or reading books to their children. Chepenik stressed the close correlation between illiteracy and incarceration and welfare dependence. She said that 7 out of 10 prisoners come from the lowest two literacy levels. She also noted that illiteracy has been described as a “life sentence without parole“ because it limits one’s options in life and is often perpetuated in the next generation.
The TLA was founded in 1972 by a group of volunteers who simply matched students with tutors. Today, it is a registered non-profit that provides numerous services including: adult basic education; instruction in reading, writing and mathematics; family-oriented literacy programs; life skills training; job readiness training; GED preparation; English as a second language courses; and computer usage courses. Volunteers are always needed and should call 747-2223 to help.