The Literacy Council hosted a first-time event, a Celebration of Education, on July 26 at Highlands Falls Country Club to raise funds for numerous educational programs throughout Macon County that the nonprofit operates.
“We began it to create awareness of the educational programs offered in Macon County and to increase capacity for The Literacy Council’s recently expanded programs,” said Executive Director of The Literacy Council Bonnie Potts. “Programs are now offered five days a week and have increased more than 200 percent in individual participants.”
The event raised approximately $108,000 said Potts. The funds will go towards such programs as providing free books to children, improving reading skills, helping students achieve their High School Equivalency Diploma, one on one tutoring and providing homework assistance, to name a few.
Festivities of the night included a silent auction, live auction, and a paddle raise. A paddle raise is simply a donation without receiving anything in return.
“We are overwhelmed by the support of so many people in our community,” said Potts. “I am so grateful for Dr. Chris Baldwin, Ron Rash, and Susie deVille for being here tonight to speak. I’m grateful for the 216 people that came to the event tonight to support us, and for the staff and volunteers that put so much work into putting this event together. The proceeds from tonight will be used to directly fund the free educational programs we offer throughout the year to our local communities.”
The Literacy Council has experienced a tremendous amount of growth in the past year, now serving an estimated 2,754 individuals annually. With an increase in participants over the past year, The Literacy Council has expanded their programs to maximum capacity, hired new teachers, and is now fundraising to facilitate the growing number of students. Programs include a free after-school program, which helps students with homework and test preparation; the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, which delivers a free book to children from birth to their fifth birthday; an after-school enrichment program with educational STEAM activities; individual tutoring; in-school tutoring in five Macon County Schools; an adult literacy program; a GED high school equivalency program; English as a Second Language (ESL); and a high school mentorship program.
Speakers at the event included Macon County Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin, The Literacy Council founder Susie deVille, and New York Times best-selling author Ron Rash.
Rash’s book “Serena” has been made into a Hollywood movie and he said that literacy has had a profound effect on his family.
Baldwin commended The Literacy Council for the variety of educational programs available in Macon County and how The Literacy Council’s programs support Macon County Schools..
“My grandfather always told us the most fantastic stories,” he recounted. “And when he read us books, the plot always changed every time he read them to us. You see, my grandfather was illiterate and couldn’t read at all. He was making up the stories as he went along. This, of course, had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer.”
Potts said that Rash has a personal dedication to literacy and to Western North Carolina.
“His grandfather was illiterate and had a huge impact on his decision to become a writer,” said Potts. “As a native of Western North Carolina, his books are set in the Appalachian Mountains.”
For more information, please visit www.maconncliteracy.org or call 828-526-0863.
Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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