Written by Jasmine Fleming
Northwest Alabama Reading Aides, located at 501 N Seminary St., is spreading awareness of its adult literacy services to Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties.“The organization has been around since 1977, and there are still so many people in the Shoals who don’t know who we are,” said Jim Green, Northwest Alabama Reading Aides Director. “The goal is to change that so when you meet someone who can’t read, you know that you’ve heard of an organization somewhere that’s free and that can help.” A major way they have engaged with the community is through Adult Literacy Week of the Shoals, held in October. They began the week with their annual Rockin’ and Readin’ concert fundraiser at Trinity Episcopal Church Oct. 7, Green said. The concert featured the Wildwood Ruminators as the main act, and Jake Wilkinson was the warmup band, he said. “We had a great evening, and a lot of folks showed up,” Green said. “We met our goal for fundraising, and more importantly, I think more people found out who we are and what we do.”
The Wildwood Ruminators
The next big event was the Lincoln Driven to give Event, where Florence’s Long-Lewis donated to both Northwest Alabama Reading Aides and the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library for each car that was test driven Oct. 11.
Literacy Week of the Shoals was inspired by National Literacy Day, but Green said he felt more than a day should be dedicated to adult literacy. That set the plan in motion for Green to collaborate with the local mayors to create Adult Literacy Week of the Shoals.
Any potential student interesting in using Northwest Alabama Reading Aides can set up an appointment to take an assessment to gauge their current reading ability, Green said. They will then be set up with a tutor, and they will meet at a time that works best for both the student and the tutor.
“We have some students who meet once a week for an hour and other students who might meet two times a week for two hours,” he said. “Our goal is to help the student meet their goal. We find out what the student wants to achieve, and we make that happen.”
Northwest Alabama Reading Aides uses the Laubach method of reading, which works through a series of books that take the student from the very beginning, Green said. Students can learn practical skills like writing checks, reading maps and prescription bottles or filling out paperwork.
The program will also completely protect the student’s anonymity, Green said. No one knows who the students are, and they are never advertised unless they want to tell their stories.
To reach out to the program, or for any questions, Northwest Alabama Reading Aides can be reached at 256-766-5709. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. They can also email at [email protected]