TROY — For nearly 50 years, Troy Literacy Council Inc. has worked to alleviate illiteracy in Miami County by providing free, volunteer-based, one-on-one tutoring to individuals seeking to improve reading and writing skills.
“There are a lot of people out there who are functionally illiterate, but those around them don’t know that they are,” said TLC board member Jane Eberly. “People can develop a lot of coping mechanisms in order to be able to work or to read certain things like prescriptions, and some rely on another person to help them.”
According to Eberly, TLC began in 1972 when a group of Presbyterian women from Troy attended a meeting at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. Following a speech by a representative of the Miami Valley Literacy Council, the women recognized that Miami County residents may also greatly benefit from a literacy program offering basic education.
Led by Evelyn Dunham, L.I.F.E. (Literacy is for Everyone) was founded. Soon, a board of directors was formed and L.I.F.E. became a non-profit organization. It was in 1985 that the program’s name was changed to Troy Literacy Council Inc.
Initially based on the teaching methods for adults developed by Dr. Frank Laubach, the council still utilizes Laubach’s motto, “Each One Teach One.”
TLC operates under the umbrella of the national adult literacy program ProLiteracy. According to ProLiteracy, about 36 million adults in the United States struggle with basic reading, writing and math skills.
“We probably all run into people in our every day life who are functionally illiterate and have trouble with these skills, but we wouldn’t know it because there’s a stigma around not being able to read,” Eberly said. “This could be preventing a lot of people from maybe being able to move ahead in their workplace or to even be able to read discharge papers if they’re in the hospital, and all types of things.”
Eberly also noted the effect a parent’s illiteracy can have on their children.
“Those who are illiterate may not be able to read to their children,” she said. “One of the most important aspects of a child’s success in school is how much they’re read to by the time they are three; a child who has not been read to is about 40,000 words behind a child who has been read to for 20 minutes a day.”
Along with native English speakers, TLC works with individuals who are learning English as a second language. TLC tutors are also able to help with basic math skills, along with assisting with an individual’s practical needs, such as how to get a driver’s license, how to read utility bills, and how mortgages work, among other things.
“Everybody’s needs are different and we have the flexibility to work with that,” Eberly said.
TLC partners with the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities (Riverside), Aspire, and Safehaven, Inc. to provide tutoring to individuals already assisted by those organizations.
TLC is an all-volunteer organization, with funding for educational material coming primarily through grants from The Troy Foundation, Altrusa International Foundation, the Dollar General Foundation, the Miami County Foundation, and individual donors.
Most tutoring sessions are held in Miami County libraries, and monthly board meetings are held in the Hayner Cultural Center. Meetings are open to the public and take place the first Tuesday of every month, except July and December, beginning at 7 p.m.
Anyone interested in receiving tutoring services, or becoming a tutor, is encouraged to contact TLC by phone, at (937) 660-3170, or by email, at [email protected].