Literacy Volunteers of America Founder Ruth Colvin 2018 LeMoyne College Commencement Address

The following is the text of the Lemoyne College Commencement address of Literacy Volunteers of America Founder Ruth Colvin 5/20/18

LEMOYNE COLLEGE COMMENCEMENT – May 20-2018     Ruth Colvin


(Sign kdzqmhmf) Here’s my advice. Keep on doing this. You can’t read it?  Yes, I’m putting you in the shoes of a non-reader. Frustrating, isn’t it. But there’s a joy in reading something you couldn’t read. And I’ll give you that joy. Here’s the code. Think of the letter that follows the letter in the alphabet. What follows k, d, z, q, m h, m, f? – Read it. Keep on LEARNING.

That’s my passion, teaching adults to read, write, speak and understand English, but I had to keep on learning to do it. Count your blessings that YOU CAN READ, thousands right here in Onondaga Co can’t read.

Look back to your freshman days, just four years ago. You’ve come a long way and you’ve learned a lot. But are you going to stop learning? I hope not.

You’ve completed your bachelor’s degree, a big step forward, and CONGRATULATIONS to each of you. But what comes next?

Now look ahead – some of you will live as long as I have – yes, I’m 101. That means you have 70 to 80 years of learning ahead of you, and ideally it will be life-long learning.

There are many ways of learning – challenging new job, graduate study, reading, research, travel, learning from others. Also finding a life partner and starting a family. To get ahead sometimes you must take calculated risks as part of that learning. I’ve done that – some successful, some mistakes – but I’ve learned from my mistakes as well as from my successes. You are now looking for a career, a job, further study, but don’t give up looking for your “calling,” your passion. What are YOUR gifts and will they have real meaning?

Yes, I’m 101 but age is only a number – I just have a bigger number than you have –  and I’m often asked what is my secret for longevity, for starting a national program, for a happy family life. I wish there was a secret.

What have I learned? In looking back over my long life, I’ve found that God works in mysterious ways, planting seeds within our lives to prepare us for future ventures. Doors often opened up, but often they were slammed in my face. I’ve found that when a door was closed to me, it meant there was another open door down the road, but I had to keep knocking.

Long before your time, there was a song called “Three Little Words,” and those words were “I love you.” Those words meant a lot to my husband, Bob, and me for we were old romantics, but I’ve found there are many three little words that help me – “God is love,” “Don’t give up,” “The right thing,” “Live life fully,”  “Learn from mistakes” – you’ll find your own “three little words” to sustain you too.

I’ve chosen to work to keep a balance of life, each with 3 little words.:

  • Physical –NEVER STOP MOVING. I exercise daily, go to the gym, golf and swim weather permitting. Who said I like to exercise? No – only because I want this quality of life.
  • Mental –AN OPEN MIND – Listen seriously, Ask Questions, stimulating discussions, Search for the truth, but always with an open mind. Remember, it’s Life Long Learning.
  • Emotional – A POSITIVE ATTITUDE – that’s love, trust, and all those good emotions. I’ve gone thru deepest grief and rejections. We all have our ups and downs, and I’ve chosen to be positive and count my blessings.
  • Spiritual – HELP ONE ANOTHER –My faith in God is strong, but I have respect for those worshipping the Almighty in different ways, always looking for similarities rather than differences.

With the 70 to 80 years ahead of you graduates, and, you parents, the 40-50 years ahead of you, remember those three little words, NEVER STOP MOVING, AN OPEN MIND, A POSITIVE ATTITUDE, and HELP ONE ANOTHER to continue on that path of LIFE LONG LEARNING.

Your life can make a difference, for YOU are the future leaders of our world. You have the seeds of greatness. Nourish them by keeping on (show sign) LEARNING.

Thank you.

Building Blocks for Literacy

“There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.” —Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

by Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Contributor
Senior Curriculum Advisor at Age of Learning/

I have previously written about how important it is to develop a love of reading, and how parents can help children become successful readers, especially through the development of oral vocabulary. According to the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading:

Research shows that learning begins long before a child enters kindergarten. Children, even infants soak up words, rhymes, songs, and images. Vocabulary development is particularly important.

Life is so exciting for young children. Everything around them is a new wonder to explore, a learning experience filled with language. You can take advantage of the child’s natural curiosity and imagination to create delightful language learning opportunities that are immersed in play. As children engage with the world around them, literacy can be linked to their experiences. This is especially powerful when parents focus on building blocks to literacy, beginning as soon as a child is born and continuing through his or her school career. by Dr. Rebecca Palacios, Contributor, Senior Curriculum Advisor at Ag of Learning/

Continue reading …

Here’s how you too can help: DONATE or VOLUNTEER

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week

Adult Education & Family Literacy Week (September 24-30, 2017) reminds us that literacy plays a vital role in the educational achievement, economic success and health of families. As many as 36 million American adults struggle to read, write, perform daily math and use technology above a third grade level.

By designating September 24-30 as national AEFL Week, LVR and other literacy organizations are seeking to raise public awareness about the impact of adult education and family literacy in order to expand access to basic education programs for low-literate adults.

Consider the following facts on the National Impact of Literacy:

  • A mother’s reading level is the single greatest determinant of a child’s success
  • Low literacy costs an estimated $230 billion in annual healthcare costs
  • Women with low literacy are twice as likely as men to earn less than $300 a week
  • Minimum wage workers increased wages by $18 to $25 within 18 months of exiting an adult education program
  • Low literate adults are less likely to vote or join community groups

A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate but fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.

Low literacy affects every area of life, in New York State, and throughout the U.S.

  • 43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
  • 50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
  • 76% of adults on public assistance are low-literate
  • 75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
  • 85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

Literacy Volunteers of Rochester is a leader in the cause of literacy. Our English language, math, Family Literacy and Digital Literacy programs are tackling core challenges confronting the Rochester community. Here’s how you can help:




New York’s Literacy Problem

A total of 3.4 million New York State residents are either functionally illiterate–reading below the 5th grade level—lack a High School Diploma or cannot speak English…

BUT fewer than 10% are receiving help for their literacy needs.

Low literacy affects every area of life

43% of adults with the lowest literacy skills live in poverty
50% of the chronically unemployed are functionally illiterate
76% of adults on public assistance are low literate  or unable to read more than simple text
Public assistance recipients with the lowest literacy skills stay on assistance the longest
Parents who can’t read are likely to have children who can’t read well
75% of prisoners fall into the lowest two levels of literacy
85% of juvenile offenders have reading problems

For more about how you can help, Contact Us



International Literacy Day

This year, International Literacy Day (8 September) will be celebrated across the world under the theme of ‘Literacy in a digital world’. On 8 September, 2017 a global event will be organized at UNESCO’s Headquarters in Paris, with the overall aim to look at what kind of literacy skills people need to navigate increasingly digitally-mediated societies, and to explore effective literacy policies and programmes that can leverage the opportunities that the digital world provides.  Continue reading …

Connections with Evan Dawson

On Thursday, May 29th, Literacy Volunteer of Rochester staff, volunteers and students spent time with Evan Dawson discussing the impact of illiteracy in Rochester, and how Literacy Volunteers of Rochester (LVR) is trying to eradicate it. LVR Executive Director Bob Mahar,  Philip Gigliotti,  Jennifer Stevens, Delmi Rivera, Jake Pietruszewski, and Irina Statnikova shared their experiences related to this issue.  To hear the podcast, click on the following link.

Rochester’s changing face of literacy

For decades, Douglass Smith made it work.

After dropping out of high school during his junior year to support children he’d had at an early age, Smith, now 53, took jobs that didn’t require much of an education.

Now, two years clean and sober, Smith is hitting the books — and getting help from Literacy Volunteers of Rochester. This is the group’s 50th year providing classes for adults, like Smith, who are trying to restart their stalled educations.  Continue reading …