For more than eight years, the Detroit Literacy Coalition (DLC) formerly the Detroit Area Lifelong Learning Coalition (DALLC) has provided multiple services to our indigent families - GED classes, specialized math classes, and finally computer classes. "Ms Elizabeth", as we fondly call Elizabeth Williams, our mainstay tutor has volunteered her time, heart and skills opening many new doors of hope for our women. Through her work and the leadership of Dr. Ntiri, Director of the DLC and Professor at Wayne State University, the GED/ABE program at SHAR has been blessed with literacy tutors. The program has also been blessed to receive three computers initially that were increased to four complete computers as well as a large laser printer. IBM has been a gracious sponsor of these computers. The numbers of clients served has varied depending on the needs and commitment to learning of the clients enrolled. Over the past five years more than 1200 hundred women have had an opportunity to increase their Math, English and Computer Skills through the Detroit Literacy Coalition's GED/ABE program. The lights have been turned on in so many ways from dim to a glimmer to food lights blinking as they learn a new concept/skill.
At a meeting with Judge Lloyd @ 36th District Court some four months ago a guest to the meeting was a gentleman new to the area, volunteering his time to teach computer skills to indigent women in treatment. His only requirement was that the program, provide the computers and that he would meet the client where their needs may be. Mr. Gary Metts visited the facility and met with the entire staff first. Mr. Metts then broke the women into six groups of eight. Each group met with Mr. Metts for one hour twice weekly. He networked the computers donated by Detroit Literacy Coalition and added additional software to include interactive "Tom Thumbs" typing tutors. Lastly, he donated a MAC computer to widen the experiences of the women and to aid their exploration.
The classes are based upon a self-paced tutorial provided by Mr. Metts and available for the women to use at their leisure. The women have two hours of hands on training weekly and additionally have an opportunity to practice and work on the tutorial independently for up to two hours each day. The availability of the computers donated by Detroit Literacy Coalition put the program in an excellent position to take advantage of his expertise.
Clearly, the benefit to the women cannot be measured in a tangible sense. The impact of their participation in the class too cannot be measured as the incidence of rule violations and verbal altercations measurable dropped as the women were too busy to bicker. Comments made by the women include:
"I never thought I could do anything like this. My life is changed now because I know that if I put my mind to it that I can do anything."
"We beat ourselves up because others do, so we think that we cannot do anything."
"I've had experience on the computer but now I understand what I'm really doing!"
"I thank the Detroit Literacy Coalition for believing in and supporting women in recovery!"
"Ms Elizabeth is so patient and really cares about us learning and spends her time that is so precious!"
"Mr. Gary is a genius. I want to pick his brain. He has given us a gift that cannot be taken away."
"I am inspired to learn more. This program has assisted the women and the staff!"
The programming brought to SHAR East by Detroit Literacy Coalition and the work of Professor Ntiri and her team of tutors started as the planting of a few seeds. The extensive garden of opportunity has changed and continues to change the lives not only of the women who directly participated but will aid their families and most assuredly the Community. We salute your vision, hard work and skill in delivering quality programming.
Cheryl A. Olden