Literacy advocate targets 'the one thing that contributes to every social ill'

Milford. Gary Linton, executive director of the Wayne-Pike Adult Literacy Program, cites an alarming statistic: 22 percent of the local population is illiterate or below literacy standards.

Sep 20 2019 | 05:16 PM

Gary Linton said the growing need for local literacy education became apparent when he addressed the Delaware Valley School Board. He learned that adults at home can’t help their children with homework.

“We’ve heard that they have children who speak English but the parents don’t, so (the students) can’t go home and get help," he said.

There is little doubt that Linton’s passion is to help adults who need English reading and writing skills. As the executive director of the Wayne-Pike Adult Literacy Program, he is using a recent grant from the Greater Pike Foundation’s Richard L. Snyder Fund to expand the English as a Second Language (ESL) program in Pike County.

The need for literacy programs may be greater than the average person thinks.

“According to ProLiteracy, 22 percent of our population in this area are illiterate or below literacy standards," he said. "We have people around here who can’t read their medicine bottles. Illiteracy is one thing that’s passed on in families, and it’s one thing that contributes to every social ill because it’s hard to get the information that can help them out if they can’t read the literature.”

'Pride and self-esteem'

The Wayne-Pike Literacy Program has been around for 33 years. Linton says the grant will help expand its ESL workshops and help with marketing and advertising.

“When people finally get over the embarrassment and feel the need for the program, they work very hard," he said.

He says his students have come from diverse backgrounds and countries, including Russia, China and Vietnam.

“One student, a parent in Pike County, will be going for her last interview for citizenship at end of month," he said.

That student, who Linton said “worked so darn hard," will be honored at an upcoming dinner as Student of the Year.

Since its inception, Wayne-Pike Literacy has tutored more than 4,000 people and trained more than 450 tutors, all volunteers. Tutors do not need to speak a foreign language, and the program requires a contribution of only one hour a week.

Once a student achieves literacy, says Linton, they are offered help finding a job.

“There’s a lot of pride and self-esteem that comes from employment, especially good employment," he said.

More information on the Wayne-Pike Literacy Program may be found at wpalp.org

Here's a list of some of the places literacy classes are held:
The Pike County Public Library ( both Milford and Dingmans Ferry)
First Presbyterian Church (Milford)
Pike County Extension Office (Milford)
Pike County Workforce Development (Shohola)
St. Patrick’s Church (Milford)
St. Vincent’s Church (Lords Valley)
TREHAB of Pike County (Lords Valley)
Lehman Township Municipal Building (Bushkill)
Pike County Correctional Facility (Lords Valley)
A recent grant from the Greater Pike Foundation’s Richard L. Snyder Fund will expand the English as a Second Language (ESL) program in Pike County.