Four years ago, Rick Ivey was flipping through a local magazine when he came across an advertisement about Literacy for Life, a program that assists adults in need with reading, writing, and language skills. Ivey felt compelled to sign up as a volunteer.
“The ad was inspiring to me,” Ivey recalls. “Literacy is also personal to me. Growing up, I had a grandmother who couldn’t read or write. Even as a small child, I could see the challenges she faced, even with life’s daily chores.”
So Rick decided to help others improve their literacy skills. He began dedicating his time to Literacy for Life as an instructor, teaching a conversation class for English as a Second Language (ESL) students. Class attendees ranged from young adults fresh out of high school to retirees from varying national and cultural backgrounds.
Discussions during the class geared toward American history, government, civics, and culture.
“The students had a real thirst to learn about America,” Ivey says.
The course evolved into one specifically about the history of the United States and remains one of the more popular classes at Literacy for Life. Ivey continues to teach the class, which is one-year long. Between 15-20 students turn out each week for a 90-minute session.
“We work our way through American history from Columbus to Barack Obama,” Ivey says.
As Ivey’s involvement with Literacy for Life grew, he began to notice some of the struggles of the program’s participants due to their lack of literacy skills.