Our Opinion: Inspiring reading lessons

Luvenia Washington finds inspiration in Scripture.

She was inspired, in her 80s, to learn to read so she could participate more actively in Bible study.

Today, at age 93, she is an inspiring example that no one is ever too old to learn.

Luvenia learned her reading skills by tapping the community resource that is Adult Basic Literacy Education, commonly known as ABLE.

Founded in 1985 by the late Amie Morrow, a community librarian, ABLE is one of 25 partner agencies and programs assisted by the United Way of Central Missouri.

This month, 31 ABLE students are being instructed by 29 volunteer tutors.

The students represent a range of backgrounds. They include area residents who: never learned to read; are referred by GED programs to strengthen reading skills; and are learning to read English as a second language. Current students include natives of China, Taiwan, Peru, Iran and Liberia.

Tutors average about one hour each week working one-on-one with students. According to ABLE Director Felicia Poettgen, many tutors are current or retired educators and business employees.

“We find tutors through the ‘Volunteer Opportunities’ column in the News Tribune and through word of mouth,” Poettgen said.

“Volunteerism in Jefferson City is really big,” she added. “I’m always amazed by the number of people willing to help.”

In addition to volunteers, Poettgen credits the association with United Way for helping provide funding and resources for the free reading program. “This has been a good partnership,” she said. “The United Way and the sharing among the agencies have been very helpful.”

Helpful is the operative word.

United Way helps ABLE serve the community.

ABLE helps adults receive the gift of reading.

And students, like Luvenia Washington, help us remember age is no barrier to learning.

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