I have enjoyed the recent TLC blogs about history because I have always loved history as well. However, as I have gotten older, I find that I enjoy knowing more about the stories of the people behind the historical events.
I think that is where my love for genealogy comes from. There are so many names on family trees, folks that we may have heard of but have never met. I’ve heard some of the stories…like the one about my great-great grandfather, Rowell, who left the family farm, his wife, and two small children in northern Illinois to go to the gold rush in California in 1849 – not to return until the 1880’s! And I know that one of my ancestors, Andrew, left Norway at the age of 13 to meet up with his uncle in southern Wisconsin in the 1870’s to start a new life. But what about Abigail? Henry? Maria? Eugene? What are their stories?
The Literacy Center has a story too. When a group of people responded to an article in 1966 to help adults learn to read, a new volunteer community-based organization was born and it came to be known as Regional Reading Aid (RRA). For over 22 years it was housed at the YWCA in Evansville. Then in 1988 it moved to Ivy Tech and received offices, staffing, and administrative support. Finally in 1999, The Literacy Center incorporated and attained 501 c (3) status and officially changed its name from Regional Reading Aid/The Literacy Center to The Literacy Center. Ivy Tech Community College Southwest continues their support to today by providing office space, technical support, and student workers.
Just as in any family tree, The Literacy Center has a family tree with the names of lots of people whose stories we just don’t know. Yes, I know the stories of my contemporaries – Lola, Frank, Susanna, Helen, Darrell – as I have traveled beside them and know their story as to why they volunteered, decided to donate, or learned to read. But what about all the other names on the tree? What are their stories?
While I may not know the personal stories of my ancestors, I do know that I am here today because of the choices they made during the story of their life. And I know that The Literacy Center is still here today because of the choices our volunteers and adult students have made over the years. We are all connected through history and I believe that a life filled with determination and passion are the ingredients that bind us together over time.
What’s your story? What choices will you make in your life? Determine to live your life with passion and an eye towards the future because the “future” may just be looking back on the choices you made and the impact those choices are having on them.
Lori Eggers Saxby
Life-long learner and Literacy Center volunteer