Helping Vikki Vannan (back left) and Audrey Carrington of the Bradford-Wyoming County Literacy Program mark National Adult Literacy Week in Wyoming County are (seated, from left) Wyoming County commissioners Judy Mead, Tom Henry, and Mike Stabinsky.
Photo and story by Rick Hiduk
(exclusive to EndlessMtnLifestyles.com readers)
Bradford-Wyoming County Literacy Program (BWCLP) representatives made their annual visit to the Wyoming County Commissioners on Tuesday for the proclamation of National Adult Literacy Week and to share what the agency has been doing over the past year. BWCLP director Audrey Carrington and ESL instructor Vicki Vannan brought the latest national literary statistics to the commissioners, which warn of a potential labor shortage in 2020 due to language deficiencies.
Figures in the proclamation indicate that 36 million Americans lack basic reading and writing skills, and even more lack basic math skills and the credentials to succeed in post-secondary education. Those who lack basic reading and writing skills are roughly twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to be in poverty, four times more likely to be unhealthy, and eight times more likely to be incarcerated.
In the past year, the BWCLP was contacted by DHL Supply Chain, which operates locally at the Procter & Gamble shipping depot east of Meshoppen. Thirty percent of the DHL workers there are citizens of Nepal, and most of them do not speak English nor live in Wyoming County. BWCLP has started two-hour English-as-Second Language (ESL) classes there once per week.
Vannan suggested that she’d like to go there at least twice per week, but their work schedule does not allow for it. The DHL request also represents a new direction for Vannan, who is more accustomed to working with immigrants and migrant workers whose first language is Spanish.
In Bradford County, the BWCLP has been called upon to assist with an influx of families from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and several Central American countries taking part in Guthrie’s “Nurses Without Borders” program. In most cases, at least one family member speaks some English, Carrington noted, but the BWCLP is providing ESL classes for both adults and public school students in the Sayre area.
There are two fundraising and awareness events planned for this weekend, including a Bridge Tournament for Literacy at Guthrie Hospital in Sayre on Saturday, Sept. 21, and Restaurants for Literacy at Marks Valley View Restaurant between Wyalusing and Laceyville all day Sunday, Sept. 22.
The mission of the BWCLP is to “provide free and confidential instruction for adults and teenagers in reading, writing, math and English language skills so that they may reach their fullest potential in life and participate productively in their community.”
For more information on events, volunteer opportunities, and available classes, interested readers may log on to www.bwcliteracyprogram.com or call 570-297-3375. BWCLP representatives will be at the Bradford County Commissioners meeting in Towanda on Thursday, Sept. 26 for a reading of the proclamation there.
National Adult Literacy Week runs from Sept. 26 to Oct. 1.