“The impact is huge.” Community organization focused on changing lives with literacy

Blue Ridge Literacy has been supporting students since 1985
Published: Sep. 8, 2023 at 3:20 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - It is international literacy day and we’re celebrating by highlighting a community organization committed to literacy; it has built those programs on a long legacy of service to the community.

Blue Ridge Literacy was founded in 1985 by two librarians who recognized a need in our hometowns.

Executive Director Dr. Ahoo Salem says struggling to read can affect everything in your life, from understand text messages, to job performance, ordering at a restaurant or communicating with your child’s teacher.

So Blue Ridge Literacy is focused on functional literacy: gaining skills that affect your day-to-day life.

They offer one-on-one tutoring, English as a second language group classes and a class for people working to earn their citizenship.

But they also offer classes on health literacy and digital literacy.

Salem said she has seen firsthand the difference these classes have on the lives of their students.

“There are all of those times that we get a phone call or a picture of a learner who has passed their citizenship test,” she said. “And they take a picture with their certificate of citizenship and they just send it to us and say I did it. The impact is massive.”

She says each year they also produce booklets of stories and essays written by students and its very rewarding for all involved. But to make all of this happen takes support and volunteers.

You can learn more about their services and ways you can get involved here.