York County Literacy Council celebrates 40 years

Alyssa Pressler
  • The York County Literacy Council has been operating for 40 years.

In the four decades that the York County Literacy Council has been operating, the group estimates it has served approximately 10,000 students in the area. A number of the recent students will be celebrated at the council's 40th anniversary event Nov. 15, when they will walk across the stage in a cap and gown to receive a certificate of achievement.

The event will honor close to 50 invited students who have received their high school equivalency diploma or their United States citizenship as a result of the courses they took with the council.

Rita Hewitt, the council's community relations manager, explained that the organization tries to hold a celebration for students every few years, but it doesn't happen annually because of the cost. The last celebration was in 2013.

"It’s about the success of the students and the success of this agency who started with grass roots," Hewitt said. "There’s still such a need to help adults who have missed their opportunities in education."

Because this year's event is also a celebration of 40 years of service, the council will have a special guest speaker: Frances Wolf, first lady of Pennsylvania.

BobbiAnne DeLeo, the council's executive director, said Wolf has been very supportive of education and the workforce and, therefore, was the perfect speaker for the event.

BobbiAnne DeLeo, executive director of the York County Literacy Council.

Current and former council board members, tutors, donors, sponsors and families will be in attendance. Hewitt said many of the attending students will be walking across a stage in a cap and gown — like they would at a typical high school graduation — for the first time, making the celebration important to them.

DeLeo said it's important for the families, especially the children, of students to see them celebrated for their education. In the fall of 2015, a partnership between the council and the Community Progress Council gave parents free child care while they attended their GED courses.

The partnership made it possible for parents to access GED courses without worrying about obtaining or paying for child care, which is a barrier for many parents wishing to further their financial situation focusing on their education.

Tina Markle, who obtained her GED in February, is one such parent. Markle said in a prior interview that her GED wouldn't have been possible without the partnership.

"I don't think anyone understands how big of an impact child care is for a lot of mothers," she said at the time.

Child care helps parents get their GED

DeLeo explained that children who see their parents working toward their education and taking class seriously are inspired to take their own education seriously. She said she believes seeing their parents celebrated for their hard work will have a similar effect and end any potential cycle of illiteracy.

"Illiteracy is something that holds back so many people, and it’s almost become a basic need in a civilized world to be able to read and write and do basic computer and math calculations," DeLeo said. "When you have some pride and confidence, you pass that along to your own children, and that’s a gift."

The literacy council event will take place Tuesday at St. Matthew Evangelical Lutheran Church, 839 W. Market St. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 6 p.m. with a buffet to follow. For ticket information, call (717) 845-8719 or email admin.asst@yorkliteracy.org.