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 Article of Interest - Literacy

Reading rally attracts tutors, even students
by Kim North Shine, September 9, 2002, Detroit Free Press
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A real-life illustration of the seriousness of adult illiteracy played out Sunday at the first Metro Detroit Reads Reading Rally.

One woman in her 50s arrived late to the event at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield.

"I couldn't read the signs to get me to the building," she said. "Next year, could you draw a picture?"

The woman is part of the double-digit illiteracy rate that plagues Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

Sunday's rally was meant to recruit tutors to teach adults to read, but about a half-dozen illiterate adults showed up looking for help.

More than 350 people attended the event, which is believed to be the first and broadest collaboration of literacy groups, corporations, community groups and schools in the tri-county area.

They all share one goal: stamping out illiteracy. "This event was a line in the sand," said Marsha Devergilio, director of Macomb Literacy Partners in Clinton Township, one of five centers that have already formed a partnership. "We can't go back now. We know what the problems are and to not do anything about them would be criminal."

Groups like Devergilio's are hoping the coalition will raise awareness of illiteracy's effects on communities. One of the coalition's goals is to increase funding for literacy programs in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties.

If successful, the project -- the brainchild of Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley -- would increase funding of literacy programs in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and create more places for nonreaders to get help. The project is cosponsored by the Free Press.

Speakers at Sunday's event included Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and state schools Superintendent Tom Watkins. They and other speakers encouraged tutors to help adults learn tasks as serious as filling out job applications and reading medical instructions, or as ordinary as reading a menu or picking produce at a grocery store.

To learn to read or to volunteer to tutor call 866-310-7323.

Contact KIM NORTH SHINE at 313-223-4557 or

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