What could possibly inspire a 66-year-old mother of 10, grandmother of 39 and great-grandmother of 15 children to return to school, learn to read and use her personal growth to help others? For Louise Reed the answer is her undying commitment to education and the opportunities and options literacy can open in her life and the lives of others. After taking many years to raise her growing family and care for her oldest child, who died from cancer a few years ago, Louise finally gave in to the urgings of her family and enrolled in the Lancaster Literacy Council Adult Reading Program. What she has learned in the program has changed her life dramatically and motivated her to share her knowledge and experiences with those in need.
Louise began the literacy program on February 20, 1996 with minimal reading skills. She has since more than doubled her skills, a feat that has helped her become a leader in her church community. Over the past two years, she has been an effective speaker for the United Way and has spoken to more than 15 groups about her experiences in achieving literacy. Through her efforts, the United Way has seen an increase in campaign dollars and awareness of the United Way services provided by member agencies.
As a result of Louise's courage and determination, she is a different person today. She takes the greatest joy in being able to pick out a greeting card for a family member or friend on her own, something that most people take for granted. Although she could sit quietly and enjoy her newfound knowledge, she chooses to give back to the community in many ways. She is an active member of her home church, David Stand A.M.E. Zion Church, serving as Leader of Class Leaders and responsible for shepherding each member of the congregation and caring for their needs.
Despite the service that Louise Reed has given back to her community, she is at most an inspiration for anyone who believes that it is too late to learn to read or receive an education. She stands as living proof that it can be done through hard work and perseverance. The fact that Louise continues to pass on the lessons of what she has learned is yet another tribute to her extraordinary spirit and belief in service.