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Friday, July 30, 2010

Milton Whitley, 2010 Winner of the Ruth J. Colvin & Frank C. Laubach Award for Student Excellence

(As published in ProLiteracy's Voices for Literacy)

"At 52 years old, Milton was unable to recite and print the complete alphabet. He was a self-described man of failure and frustration and, in his own words, "unteachable." "I was locked up in the world," Milton said. "I was basically a dead man walking." Milton was able to survive many years without literacy skills by living with a close friend who helped hide his disability ... until one tragic day in 2004 when his close friend died in his arms. "I was lost. My mind went away," said Milton. Milton was homeless and unemployed. He needed help. That is when he made the decision to learn how to read. The Literacy Council of Montgomery County (LCMC) helped change his life.

Today, not quite three years later, Milton has made a complete turnaround. He is gainfully employed, assisting in the shelter where he used to live. He is living independently and writing his autobiography. Moreover, he is a man who understands the importance of adult literacy in his life and in the lives of thousands of other illiterate adults in the world today. " I'm a brand new man. I can read road signs. It's easier to understand things. I know how to look words up in the dictionary. I can balance a checkbook and write a check," Milton reflects.

Learning how to read has not only changed Milton's life, but it has also impacted the lives of everyone around him. Milton has become a strong recruiter for LCMC, all while continuing to improve his own reading skills using Laubach Way to Reading and attending supplemental tutoring sessions.

Just a few weeks ago, Milton received the Ruth J. Colvin and Frank C. Laubach Award for Student Excellence from ProLiteracy. As for Milton's future goals, "I'd like to be a teacher because it will help educate others. This will give me a chance to apply my skills that I have learned in the literacy program."

For more of Milton's inspirational story, please contact ProLiteracy's member organization, Literacy Council of Montgomery County, at www.literacycouncilmcmd.org.

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