SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — For more than 30 years, the city of San Diego's literacy program, READ/San Diego, has helped thousands of adults who struggle with reading and writing.
Valerie Hardie, the program's administrator, estimates 560,000 San Diegans lack fundamental English reading and writing skills.
"There are folks that want to read to their kids but can't. There are folks that want to fill out a job application or help their kids with homework," said Hardie.
The free literacy program works with 300 to 400 adults each year. Tutors meet with their students twice a week for an hour and a half. Hardie said the lessons center around the student's goals.
"If someone comes in because they want to pass their citizenship test or get their GED, that determines what they work on," she said.
Participant's goals vary from obtaining citizenship and GEDs to everyday tasks like reading medicine labels or having basic conversations.
"I wanted them [daughters] to improve their reading. Even myself, I wanted to improve my reading, my spelling too with them," said long-time participant Lourdes Garcia Chepe.
Garcia Chepe, who migrated from Mexico, joined the program in 2005 to help her and her daughters learn English.
"They're [daughters] not kids anymore, unfortunately, but it's something that I give advice to other parents and show... think that it's really important," said Garcia Chepe.
It's success stories like Garcia Chepe's that Hardie said make the award-winning program so valuable.
Hardie, who has been with the program since 1988, said it goes beyond just teaching someone to read and write; it's about giving them to tools to be successful in life.
Rather than the shame and embarrassment of not being able to read, that's hope, and more of a can-do spirit and that's pretty powerful," said Hardie.
If you are interested in becoming a program tutor or participant, contact the program.