Reading rally attracts
tutors, even students
by Kim North Shine, September 9, 2002, Detroit Free
For more articles on disabilities and special ed visit
A real-life illustration of the seriousness of adult
illiteracy played out Sunday at the first Metro Detroit Reads
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
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