“I’ve been on the OLC board for over two years this year. I got involved initially through a friend; I told her that I wanted to do some more volunteer work. I had done a lot of volunteering with the Center for Equality and the Red Cross, but I had stopped because I was concentrating on grad school. She said, ‘You read a lot.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘You know literacy’s important, right?’ I was like, ‘Of course it’s important!’ She said, ‘You can get involved [at OLC], I can make that connection.’
I joined as a general board member, then I was elected secretary. When it was time to get a new slate of officers, it was actually proposed to me to consider [being Chair], and I decided to do it because I thought it would be a good way to learn what it was like. I’ve done a lot of nonprofit work, but this is my first time on a board. I joke around, like, ‘You guys must be pretty desperate if you want me to do it,’ because I’ve never chaired a board before, but I’m happy that they’re trusting me. I see Ozark Literacy Council really engaging our donors and gaining more than we’ve ever had. We should be more visible, more seen. I think we need that, because the work we do is so important. The people that come into the building, it’s like a family, for sure. I know what it’s like to feel like an outsider. So if you come in and it’s like a home, I just want that for even more people. I see the program growing, and I’d just like to see more of that. Considering the small staff we have and all the volunteer work that goes in, we make a huge impact.
Literacy, to me, is a way to understand and empower. For instance, if you can’t understand the language in documents or the things in your world that really affect your life, it really diminishes your access to resources. I think of our Tyson program, where we have people who are working really hard and supporting their families. There are just parts of the culture that they work in, the business that they work in, that they just weren’t able to understand because of the language barrier. So, I think that it’s about quality of life, but also about fully understanding what’s going on around you.
My favorite author is Neil Gaiman. Reading is like an escape for me, and he has a way of writing that really turns off the outside world. I like that. Also, some of the language he uses is very intellectual and next-level. I’ve been reading his books before and come across a word I don’t know and I’m like, ‘I’m going to go look that up.’ It makes me smarter, it just does. And it’s cool to be smarter.”