In a church at the end of a dirt road, the New Horizon Family Care Center, Inc. provides free computer classes, job preparation, childcare, summer tutorials, and after-school programs for the residents of Hopkins, a rural community just fifteen minutes outside of Columbia, South Carolina. One woman is at the center of all this activity. She goes door-to-door to recruit learners, maintains the computer lab, and coordinates a program that serves people from newborns through older adults. Moreover, she is a volunteer. Fannie Rumph simultaneously oversees the daily operations of the family literacy program and helps set the future direction for New Horizon.
For her dedication and passion, the United Way of the Midlands recently recognized Fannie with its Meritorious Award, its highest honor given annually to a volunteer. Fannie was completely surprised, and she accepted the honor modestly. "It hasn't been easy, but it's rewarding," she reflected. As one of the partners of the United Way's Midlands Literacy Initiative (MLI), Fannie dedicates herself to serving adults in the Hopkins region and to promoting adult literacy in the community.
The Midlands Literacy Initiative is a partnership of business, adult education providers, workforce development agencies, colleges, and the United Way, brought together to serve the literacy needs of communities in the Columbia, South Carolina region. Early MLI activities focused on helping employers to improve the literacy skills of their workforce, but the initiative has since evolved and expanded to include family literacy, basic skills, and employment training activities. Driven by the needs of the community, particularly those of employers, and by the work of dedicated staff and partners, the MLI has won state and national recognition as a model of collaboration.