In Volusia County, learning to read can be the key to a new life, invest in literacy

The Daytona Beach News-Journal

Thirty-two years ago, I attended a United Way breakfast with 500 people. A gentleman from a major paint company in Edgewater stood up and said that he was the warehouse manager – he and his crew loaded 40 tractor trailers every day. He stated he cannot read nor write. Yet he held a managerial position. (He learned to see the colors on the cartons.) 

At that time – 32 years ago – I joined the Board of Directors of the Volusia Literacy Council. I learned then that one in every four in Volusia County residents cannot read or write past the fourth-grade level. Today as I write this article 32 years have passed and one in every four persons in Volusia County cannot read nor write past the fourth-grade level – that relates to 125,000 folks out of 585,000 residents. 

More: FUTURES receives grant to support tutoring, literacy

How many times have you had someone – a carpenter, plumber, auto mechanic – perform work for you and have recommended them to friends/family for a great job. Then one day you thought “how come they don’t have a regular job?” Simply because they cannot fill out an application! As in my past as vice president of Oceans Eleven 6 Hotels – we had many individuals come, take an application home, and have their children fill it out! In today’s world that is not possible since most applications are online now. 

We here in Volusia County can be the best county in Florida – if we will invest in teaching the 125,000 people how to read and write. Why not take an hour or two per week to be a mentor for young and old? Get off the couch – our budget is at $22,000 to teach 125,000 folks to read and write. It can’t be done?  

Our priorities must be literacy for folks and affordable housing – so we can have a great work force and an outstanding county, with all the federal funds allocated by our state, county, and cities. Major consideration should be given to educate our folks with part of the unspent $30 million in federal funds. 

Bob Davis, Daytona Beach Shores 

David is president and CEO of the Volusia County Lodging and Hospitality Association.

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