Nonprofit serves thirteen South Texas counties

"The idea behind it is: if you can teach a kid to read, enjoy reading and get excited about opening up a book and learning something new, everything for the rest of their life when it comes to learning is just going to come so much easier"

 

The South Texas Literacy Coalition has moved into a new space five times the size of where they started, according to the Progress Times, making way for even more students to develop a taste for recreational reading.

 

The 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, started about eleven years ago, used to operate out of a 400-hundred-square-foot space off of Highway 107 and Jackson Rd. Last week, they held a ribbon cutting for their 2,200-square-foot offices at 2526 Freddy Gonzalez Drive in Edinburg.

 

“Literacy affects every aspect of our life,” Jonathon Vasquez, associate director of the organization, said. “Not just in being able to write an essay for college or a scholarship, but on a day-to-day basis.”

 

Prior to the ribbon cutting, Dr. Ida Acuña-Garza, chief executive officer of the non-profit, noted that the organization distributes sixty thousand books to families in the region every year. Supported by generous donors, the group accepts funds in order to buy families and children new books in order to promote the importance of reading not just for work, but for pleasure.

 

“We want children to develop that love of reading because if they can do that, they can do well in all subjects,” Acuña-Garza said. “We want our community partners to be involved and know that every penny that we raise stays right here.”

 

The non-profit covers thirteen counties in South Texas. Vasquez mentioned that culturally, stressing the importance of being literate is necessary in South Texas. “[It can be] something as simple as taking one of your parents, or your uncles or your aunts, to the doctor where they need to get detailed information about what’s wrong with them or what they need to be doing,” Vasquez said. “It’s understanding the medication, and simple things like that that a lot of people take for granted. It’s a very, very important part of life.”

 

According to the organization’s website, 41 percent of the population South of San Antonio “is at some rate of illiteracy.” They hope to tackle the issue by creating opportunities for “literacy outreach programming through community partnerships” that will in turn create a more literate populous.

 

They tend to focus on early intervention by reaching out to the youth in the community. “The idea behind it is: if you can teach a kid to read, enjoy reading and get excited about opening up a book and learning something new, everything for the rest of their life when it comes to learning is just going to come so much easier and so much more natural,” Vasquez said. “The comprehension comes more naturally, and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

 

The South Texas Literacy Coalition will be holding their annual literacy symposium at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley’s FESTIBA 2020 on February 22.