Lehigh Valley

Literacy Center celebrates four decades of success

VIDEO: The Literacy Center is...

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Judit Garger stands in front of a group of students and asks, "Who would like to give a definition?"

Sitting near the front is Abdelhak Mimoune.

For him, the definition of success all started when he came here two years ago.

"Like everybody, I love America, I love to live the American dream," Abdelhak says excitedly.

Back home in Algeria, he says he had a good job at a company, sort of like PPL, but when he got here, finding any work was hard because he couldn't speak a word of English.

Fortunately, a friend told him about The Literacy Center.

Kelly Gallagher, Counseling Coordinator at the center explains, "We have students from 57 different countries and they speak 28 different native languages."

Abdelhak speaks Arabic, others in the room, Spanish or Russian.

But the moment every one of them steps inside the building, they're united by one language - English.

It's also completely free. The center relies on some grants, but about half of the funding is from donations, which are always welcome.

The staff says they've turned out success stories that don't just better individuals, but whole communities, and they’ve been doing it for 40 years.

“They're able to earn more money, which means they're able to give back more in taxes," Kelly explains.

"They're able to patronize more diverse businesses, they're able to help their kids do better in school, talk to their kids teachers and doctors," she adds, moving her hands in an “etcetera” motion.

Judit Garger is the Curriculum Coordinator, and often a favorite teacher here, and says there are so many student success stories.

"They were not able to read, and they tell you they were able to read a bedtime story to their kids. You have students who escaped cruelty, they come here and try to pass their citizenship, and once they learn enough English, they pass and they feel free,” Garger said.

Abdelhak says he's living proof. He just got a job as a truck driver. It's not his old job, but it's a new one - and it's in America.

His eyes light up and he's excited, telling us, "And I am the driver of the month! Yes! And that happened because I am here at The Literacy Center. I don't forget that in all my life."

The Literacy Center is a non-profit that says donations change lives. If you'd like to donate, clink on the link of the front page of http://www.theliteracycenter-lv.org/

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