Building Community Connections

I’ve been volunteering with Washtenaw Literacy for six years, starting as an ESL tutor for several wonderful groups of learners at the Malletts Creek library, Washtenaw Community College, and the Parkway Meadows apartments.  I’ve also served as a mentor, training and supporting new tutors. These days, I serve on the board of directors, where I’m focused on building the organizational capacity and infrastructure we need to support our learners and tutors and grow our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

One of my main reasons for supporting Washtenaw Literacy all these years has been its impact on learners. But I’ve also come to understand and appreciate it more and more as an organization that provides opportunities not just for our learners, but for our community as a whole. In an increasingly atomized society, this organization makes it possible for us to connect with each other.  And those connections — across all kinds of boundaries and types of social segregation — break down some incredibly formidable barriers to equity and inclusion.

The barriers created by low literacy and limited English fluency are chief among these, of course. But as we work together as a community to tackle Washtenaw Literacy’s mission, we are also coming together across other differences that separate and segregate us: ZIP code, incarceration status, income and wealth, race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, and many others.

To my mind, now more than ever, this coming together is the magic of Washtenaw Literacy. It’s what gives me hope. It’s what motivates me to dig into my time and wallet each and every month to make sure this work — our work — has a chance to keep working. Not just for our learners’ sake, but for the sake of all of us who call Washtenaw County home.The great news? On October 24 & 25, we all have a chance to make this magic happen, and it’s as easy as staying home, enjoying the show, and bidding to support Washtenaw Literacy. I’ll be there, doing my part to make sure we reach our goal. I hope to “see” you there, too!

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