December 6, 2016
Letter To The Editor
On Friday Nov. 18 nearly 400 people attended the Birthday Party of the Century to honor Ruth J. Colvin as she celebrates her 100th birthday and to support the organization she founded, LiteracyCNY. We thank everyone who helped to plan the celebration at the newly renovated Marriott Syracuse Downtown, particularly Bob Dewey and Doreen Kingsley, along with their committee of volunteers, who planned and led the festivities. But even more important, we thank the community members who attended the party and provided financial support to the agency.
LiteracyCNY, originally known simply as Literacy Volunteers, was founded in 1961 when Colvin read an article in the Herald American about illiteracy in Onondaga County. There were an estimated 11,000 “functionally illiterate” adults here at the time. Colvin was astounded that this could be the case right here in her own city. She tackled the problem and started working with professional reading specialists to develop tutor training and instructional materials.
Colvin made it her mission and passion to arm adults in Syracuse with the tools to learn how to read. Little could she know that her efforts would change thousands of lives, serve as the catalyst for the national volunteer adult literacy movement, and ultimately become her legacy.
Although LiteracyCNY has helped thousands of adults in Onondaga County to improve their literacy skills since then, today adult educators estimate that there are more than 60,000 adults here with only the most limited literacy and English language skills. LiteracyCNY provides instruction to more than 450 adults per year in one-to-one volunteer-student pairs and in small group classes taught by credentialed instructors and supplemented with volunteer tutors. These adults become able to help their children to succeed in school, obtain jobs or better jobs, take better care of their families, and strengthen our community.
We are committed to continue to transform lives in Central New York. At the Birthday Celebration, the LiteracyCNY Board of Directors announced the formation of the Ruth J. Colvin Endowment Fund to Benefit LiteracyCNY, ensuring that the agency will have a sustainable basis to continue Colvin’s work into the future. We are deeply grateful to the community for your support of this important legacy.
For more information about LiteracyCNY, please visit www.literacycny.org.
Marsha L. Tait