The Volusia Literacy Council tutors 250 residents annually.
Bill Rice and his wife, Carol, of Ormond Beach, recall a day many years ago when they were in a meeting at church, and they were passing around a Bible for each person to read a verse. They saw panic in a man’s face as the book got closer to him.
It was that moment that made them start thinking about the importance of adult literacy. They had been looking for a place to volunteer so joined the Volusia Literacy Council, and now, about 16 years later, are still tutoring.
They’ve always worked at Reality House, a halfway house for those with drug or alcohol problems work their way back into society.
“It’s a good feeling when a person makes improvement, or even gets their GED, which improves their job chances,” Rice said.
The council had one of their four annual fundraisers on Sept. 20, a golf tournament at Plantation Bay. It was a rainy morning, but a couple of the 140 golfers were no-shows.
Executive Director Bill Hinebaugh said the tournament normally brings in $15,000 to $20,000, but final figures were not available at press time.
It was the 24th consecutive year for the tournament for the agency which uses volunteer tutors to improve adult literacy in the county. Clients, age 16 and over, are assisted with reading as well as math skills. About 250 are helped each year.
Hinebaugh said 29% of adults in the county read below the ninth grade level, and 23% read at or below the third grade level. He said the graduation rate is 68%.
“It’s a reality of life,” he said. “If you can’t read you can’t get a job.”
The Literacy Council, which is nonprofit, has been in business for 35 years. It’s funded by United Way and Volusia County, but about $70,000 must be raised each year.
“Book purchases are a big cost,” said Lorrirae McLaughlin, the liaison for West Volusia County. She said they must purchase teaching materials, special books for those who speak another language, math and GED instruction books.