PICKENS — Tutors, students, volunteers and friends of the Pickens County Literacy Association gathered recently at the Fellowship Hall at Grace United Methodist Church in Pickens for their annual appreciation and awards banquet.
Cecil Hitchcock, vice president of the PCLA, welcomed everyone, president Harry Holladay presented opening remarks and board member Marc Hayes gave the invocation. Director Everette Curl introduced board members and then tutors and volunteers introduced themselves, their students and other guests.
Several tutors and students spoke briefly on the events of the past year and their students’ plans for the future, which included acquiring their GEDs, attending adult education classes, and even college enrollment. Some of the PCLA’s current students speak English as a second language.
Curl and Holladay presented plaques to this year’s recipients of the Carmen Award, which honors dedication and service to the PCLA. It is named for the late Herman and Dot Carmen were instrumental in the founding of the organization back in 1969. This year’s honorees were long time tutors Frank Porter and Katherine Gitto, and dedicated book sale volunteer Phil Cournoyer.
The guest speaker was the Rev. Chris Lee, pastor at Carpenter’s House Church in Powdersville and husband of Vanessa Lee, a member of the PCLS board.
Lee said that he as a child he had a speech impediment that caused him to spend time alone. He said he remembered getting his first library card, which led him to a love of reading.
“Books opened the world to me,” he said. Whenever his family moved to a new place, he would get a new library card.
Lee praised the PCLA and its service to others.
“To give people the ability to open a book and understand what they are reading, that is a gift,” he said.
Volunteer Lynn Curl reminded everyone that the PCLA offers one-on-one tutoring for anyone seeking to improve their reading and writing skills. She explained that the program offers materials, books and tutors, all free. Times and locations are arranged by the tutor and student to meet their needs and schedules.
They also offer English as a Second Language tutoring and have speakers available to visit with organizations or churches that want to learn more about the program.
Contact any member of the Pickens County Literacy Association or call the director at 864-878-9642 for more information.
The PCLA is a not-for-profit organization that relies on private funding as well as sales from their semi-annual used book sales. Tax deductible donations can be mailed to the Pickens County Literacy Association, 117 Johnson St., Pickens, SC 29671.
Kayce Shusterman is the board advisor for the Pickens County Literacy Association.