by Babs Cape –
Literacy means one can read and write, but at the Literacy Council of Williamson County (LCWC) it means so much more! For the adults they serve, literacy means learning beyond words on paper. They want the skills and training for a better job, a better life for themselves and their families. So, the LCWC programs include, besides literacy for individuals and their families, civics education and workforce preparation. While learning reading and writing, the people are trained for “shovel ready” jobs, those that are out there waiting on good workers with skills in trades suffering from an insufficient worker pool. Similar classes at a community college or trade school might cost the students $1000 to $3500. LCWC education and training is offered for free!
Target occupations include automotive service technicians, bookkeeping, accounting, auditing clerks, computer-support specialists, electricians, heating and air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanics and installers, dental assistants, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters, welders, cutters, solders and brazers, and more! These occupations pay on average $18 an hour, and there is a high number of job openings in these fields.
Five entities are cooperating with LCWC to make the literacy and vocational training work: The Housing Authority (facilities), ACC (instructional assistance), the Community Action Network (help with funding), and Work Force Solutions (assessing employer needs).
Seeds of Strength liaison Deborah Thomas, Karron Wilson, and I visited the site of this exciting grantee on July 31st, just as a six- months’ class was about to end. Classes were two evenings a week and Saturdays. Twelve adults, who had 100% attendance in this class, will soon be testing for a license in HVAC, where there is potential for a better income and career advancement. The HVAC class was diverse: one couple looks forward to opening their own business; Zane, the father of 3 sons (one at UT) from Pakistan, was full of enthusiasm and optimism — he wants to work on new installations on large jobs.
Entry to the program is user-friendly, welcoming folks as they come in the door. To qualify for the program, a candidate must have at least a 6th grade reading level (tutors are available) and must pass drug and background tests. Students are evaluated for their potential fit for the course.
The LCWC Executive Director Robert Pinhero is a dynamic leader, uplifting and amazing. He looks ahead, constantly adding and improving what LCWC can offer their students. The SoS grant of $20,400 was used to add bright and dedicated new Site Coordinator Kimberly Goode, who comes with vast experience and a passion for the job. She shares with Robert the vision and mission of LCWC to eliminate obstacles to success, offer practical assistance, and evolve with the needs and solutions.
A poster near the building entrance sums up the encouragement LCWC offers to those coming through their doors: You Need to Believe in Yourself. Currently, 187 Georgetown residents are being served; the goal for this grant year is 250.
Hearing about the work they are doing and their hopes for the future made us proud that Seeds of Strength has a hand in this great venture.