Greenville Literacy Association Helps Community Reach Goals

At the young age of 16, Vera Scruggs married her high school sweetheart. Over the next 37 years, her family blossomed as she became a mother of three and grandmother of seven. In between caring for her children and grandchildren, Vera worked at an embroidery company to make ends meet. She never thought twice about the fact that she didn’t finish high school until the day her company closed and she was left without a job and without an education.

Although she spent most of her life working in textiles, Vera wanted to do something different. She had always wanted to work in a medical office, but to do that she needed an education. With the help of SC Works, Vera was introduced to Greenville Literacy Association and went back to school at the age of 53.

Greenville Literacy Association (GLA) is an adult education program that provides quality instruction in a flexible environment that is both affordable for and inclusive of all literacy levels. As a partner of SC Works, GLA helps displaced workers improve their job opportunities. GLA’s Adult Basic Education program helps participants improve their skills in reading, writing, math, computers, social studies and science. Trained volunteer tutors guide students through individual study plans to reach their educational goals.

At first, Vera was hesitant about going back to finish her education. She didn’t enjoy school when she was younger and found subjects like math and science challenging. However, she quickly realized her hesitation was only nerves and grew to love her classes at GLA.

“People reach the point where they think ‘I can’t do this.’ But everyone at GLA made me feel comfortable,” she said. “They showed me that I could do it and gave me the confidence to reach my goals.”

With the help of tutors, Vera overcame her struggles with math and science and steadily worked toward her GED. “The tutors care about you and inspire you,” she said. “When I was taking the GED exam, it was like they were there with me. Every second we spent doing classwork together made it easy to recall what I learned.”

After a year of hard work, Vera passed the exam to earn her GED. She then enrolled in Greenville Tech’s Physician Health Information Technician (PHIT) program to pursue her goal of working in a medical office. Today she is employed by Greenville Health System at MD360 in Greer, where she manages registration.

“I wanted to better myself and find a career that was always going to be there,” Vera said. “I honestly believe that I am where I am because of GLA. Without their program, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to earn my GED and work at a job I really enjoy.”

After finishing her education and beginning a new career, Vera decided to return to GLA, this time as a volunteer. “I wanted to give back because they helped me so much,” she said. “GLA made me feel good about myself, and I wanted to help others feel the same way. By showing them what I had accomplished, I hoped to give a little inspiration to someone else so they could do it too.”

GLA serves Greenville County at four, strategically located learning centers throughout the county. For more information about Greenville Literacy Association, please visit www.greenvilleliteracy.org or call 864-467-3456.

Debbie Nelson

Debbie Nelson is the president and founder of DNA Creative Communications, a woman-owned public relations and inspirational marketing firm for nonprofit organizations. Under Debbie’s leadership, in 2010 DNA founded Shine the Light Nonprofit Forums, an annual training program for Greenville nonprofits in partnership with the Community Foundation of Greenville County, the United Way of Greenville County and the Hollingsworth Funds. To support other nonprofits across the state, she also manages education programs for the South Carolina Association of Nonprofit Organization. As an a advocate for the nonprofit community, each month Debbie shares nonprofit stories in her Shine the Light columns in the Greenville Business Magazine and the Columbia Business Monthly. In addition she teaches nonprofit marketing at Clemson University to inspire and develop future nonprofit leaders. Debbie is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Leadership South Carolina and the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leadership Initiative. She currently serves on the boards of the Greenville Area Development Corporation, the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, the United Way of Greenville County and the United Way Association of South Carolina.

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