James, unable to read and unable to work, went to Goodwill Easter Seals of the Gulf Coast in 2006. He had been a truck driver, stopping at every truck stop between destinations to ask for verbal directions. He had a good salary and a nice home and family. One day, he was caught in a pool chemical explosion because he couldn’t read the directions on the label. The explosion injured his face and cost him the vision in one eye, effectively ending his career as a trucker. With all the time he now had, James reached out to Goodwill Easter Seals to begin the process of learning to read. He spent hours every day working on reading, and met with his tutor faithfully. Over time, he began completing his own applications, reading the sports page of the paper, and arguing with his tutor over politics. For the first time, he was able to help his four children with their homework, instead of walking away in shame. His tutor connected him with the best eye surgeon in the area, who restored the vision in his eye, enabling him to regain his Commercial Driver’s License. Of all his new skills, one in particular stands out for him. “One of the things I am most proud of,” he stated, “is being able to write the note in my daughter’s birthday card myself.”
Fast forward to today, and James is the father of a new baby (his fifth child), who was born with a disability. He returned to Goodwill Easter Seals, this time as the parent in an Early Intervention therapy program for his baby. “It’s a good thing you all taught me to read,” he said. “This program has a lot of paperwork!”
James’ literacy success at Goodwill Easter Seals required courage, a lot of work, and determination to stick with the program. Because James didn’t give up, the effects were even more far reaching than he could have predicted. He is now more equipped to seek necessary services for his child with special needs, and is a more confident parent to all of his children.