“It was embarrassing”: Cape Fear Literacy Council student learns to read at 54

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT shines on Cape Fear Literacy Council
“It was embarrassing”: Cape Fear Literacy Council student learns to read at 54
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:57 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - For the first time in his entire life, Vincent Durant is doing something he’s never been able to do before. At 54, he’s finally learning how to read.

Despite graduating from high school, no one ever knew he didn’t know how.

“Well, some of my teachers who didn’t know I didn’t know how to read that well would call me up to read and I had a problem with it and it was kind of embarrassing,” he said.

It was his pride that led him to the Cape Fear Literacy Council.

That’s when he met Anne Stokley, a member of the board of director and a tutor at CFLC since 2017.

She had never tutored before.

“No, no, no,” Stokley said. “I was a scientist. I was in pharmaceutical RND for my career. So, I’ve trained people -- technical training, but I’ve never done anything like this work.”

The training is specific for adult learners.

“So it’s not diagramming sentences or doing Phonics and things like that. It’s for dealing with people who’ve been educated but may have missed the skills that made them good readers,” said Stokley.

In New Hanover County, 15% of adults are at what is considered a level one literacy rate, which is the lowest, according to Yasmin Tomkinson, executive director of the Cape Fear Literacy Council. She says more are at a level two but even they are challenged with reading.

“They are still struggling,” Tomkinson said. “They’re not comfortable -- they’re not confident. It’s not until level three that you are proficient.”

Tomkinson has been with CFLC for more than 20 years. She’s seen the success stories like Durant’s time and time again.

“I feel so lucky to be a part of this organization,” she said. “There’s nothing bad in this equation. People who want to improve their lives. They’re people who are giving of their time to help them do it.”

Durant was hesitant at first. He actually came to the literacy council in the 1990′s but quit. This time he’s been determined and wants any adult who wants to learn how to read to know it’s really not hard.

“It’s not,” he said. “It’s just breaking down words and taking your time, listening, sounding it out and it will all fall into place.”

Durant says he has about two more years at the Cape Fear Literacy Council before he’s where he wants to be. He has goals.

“I can read to my grandkids then and I can teach somebody else how to read,” he said.

The Cape Fear Literacy Council is a non-profit organization that depends on donations. The annual CFLC luncheon is one of the biggest fundraisers. The next one is Tuesday, April 18, featuring renowned author Celia Rivenbark as the guest speaker. For more information on the luncheon or how to make a donation, click here.