THE HOUSTON COUNTY CLCP AND ITS PARTNERS
The CLCP also spreads its "good news" throughout the community through its outreach to local churches. Not only does this allow pastors and lay leaders to become involved in adult literacy, but it also provides an important way to reach adult learners and to disseminate information on available services. Representatives of local churches, such as the Greater Springfield Baptist Church and the Union Grove Baptist Church, serve on the CLCP Board. The faith community's involvement is so crucial that the CLCP hosts a special pastors' luncheon to give church leaders information about literacy programs to share with their congregations. In response to a discussion of the need for literacy services at the 2002 luncheon, church leaders held similar discussions within their congregations. Because pastors know the needs of their congregations, they can connect adults who would not normally hear about these programs to the Houston County CLCP and literacy services. The CLCP plans to hold other events like the luncheon to brainstorm ways to promote literacy services.
Some churches provide free classroom space for adult education classes taught by volunteers and instructors from Middle Georgia Technical College. MGTC provides the instructors and materials to the church, while the CLCP helps recruit students and advertise the program. The courses offered here mirror those at the Corder Road campus, but transportation is not a problem for learners since they can take classes in their immediate community.
THE CHURCH TACKLES LITERACY
The Greater Springfield Baptist Church dedicates the entire second floor of its gymnasium to adult education. Walls there are covered with GED-related posters and other materials about the literacy classes taking place there. Learners who attend classes here are reminded daily: "It looks like a diploma but works like a passport. Georgia's GED programs work!"
In one classroom at the church, an older adult learner named John worked one-on-one with his tutor. In 1997, he won an EAGLE award from the state for being an outstanding adult learner. John came to the program not knowing how to read, but after working with a tutor twice weekly for a year, he can now read and write. He expressed pleasure in the many benefits of literacy, such as writing his own checks, composing letters to his instructors, and reading the newspaper and his mail. He continues to work on reading; his goal is to be able to read the Bible. John is now working toward getting his GED diploma and says he will spend "as long as it takes" to finish.
At a church on a sparsely populated two-lane road, Latino immigrant mothers and their children learn to speak and read English. The Greater Word of Deliverance Baptist Church is the site of one of the Houston County CLCP's English language programs. Wanting to get involved with the Hispanic community, the pastor of Greater Word approached the adult literacy program at MGTC for help in setting up this program. Together with the CLCP, the partners helped design courses, write syllabi, locate and obtain materials, decorate the building, and recruit instructors and learners.
Now the pastor, his daughter, and a part-time adult education instructor from MGTC teach at three tables in the church sanctuary. As their mothers learn beginning, intermediate, or advanced English, children in the nursery read books in English and learn basic conversation skills. The walls, doors, windows, and floors all have labels with their English names. The program is popular; it expanded from two students on the first day to more than 45 after only two months. Although demand has not diminished, this program must now limit its size because of the lack of classroom space. The Houston County CLCP is seeking donations from businesses and others to repair the roof on a portable classroom for the church's use.
By working with these and other churches, the Houston County CLCP furthers its mission of serving a greater number of adults, reaching new learners, and building support in the faith community. Learners benefit by receiving services they might not otherwise have access to because of transportation or childcare issues. The faith community benefits as well by deepening its active involvement in the community. Finally, the Houston County CLCP benefits from the increased public exposure and moves closer to reaching its ten-year goals.