Thomas Openshaw, M.D.
Dr. Tom Openshaw has thought a lot about how literacy affects health. A hematologist-oncologist practicing in Bangor, he works daily with people whose well-being is tightly connected to their ability to read and understand complex information.
He says that everything that contributes to wellness — informed self-care to prevent disease, negotiating complex health care systems, understanding medication schedules and side effects, using online and printed information — is difficult, if not impossible, if you don’t read well.
“Every day I see people whose health is compromised by their literacy levels,” Dr. Openshaw says. Some are on chemotherapy drugs that must be taken on a careful schedule. Others suffer because they don’t understand the use of their pain meds. Patients may fail to understand their treatment options.
Better literacy can mean better health and a better
life. That’s why Dr. Openshaw and his wife Alice have long supported Literacy
Amy Faircloth of Pelletier & Faircloth“Every day I see people who make terrible mistakes because they can’t understand the pieces of paper that rule our lives,” says Amy Faircloth, who has practiced family law in Bangor for 25 years.
“Adults who don’t read well don’t have access to the information and services
they need. Our tax dollars fill in the gaps, so the problem
affects all of us.”
"There’s so much involved in being an active participant in your own life and in your community. If you can’t read well, it’s very difficult to be an active, contributing participant. And that's why our law firm proudly supports Literacy Volunteers of Bangor."
Susan Bennett-Armistead, Early Literacy Expert
“Literacy Volunteers does what every community should do: they promote the health of our community by supporting people in becoming self-sufficient. Promoting the literacy of community members gives them the skills they need to gain more skills, provide for their families, and actively engage in the development of our community. In promoting one person's literacy, we all benefit. Literacy Volunteers is the best kind of community investment.”
Terri & Fred Wlodarski
Born in England to legally resident Poles displaced after WWII, Terri Wlodarski learned the importance of literacy as a teenager when she coached her Polish parents for their U. S. citizenship exam. Reading, writing, and American history were the topics to be tested and they were determined to pass in order to gain a permanent home.
"My father struggled trying to pronounce
"Massachusetts" perfectly as one of our 13 original colonies while my
mom practiced writing cursive English over and over and over to sentences that
I dictated," Terri says.
It was a lesson for a lifetime. Both Terri and her husband Fred are staunch
advocates for literacy.
"Learning to read is the very first step of many in being able to gather a myriad of tools by which to maneuver through life. While it opens doors of opportunity and security in our community, it also personifies the Chinese proverb You give a man a fish and he eats for a day; you teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime," says Terri.
"I feel very comfortable asking folks to support literacy—it crosses every religion, political party, and class without preference. Supporting Literacy Volunteers of Bangor is a wonderful way to give of one's time, gift one's money, and consider leaving a legacy. "
Rick's first exposure to Literacy Volunteers occurred at its 40th anniversary celebration at the Bangor Public Library in 2009. He was unsure of what to expect. Then adult students began to tell their stories.
Rick recalls, "I remember a young man from Vietnam who came to America to be an engineer, following the American Dream. I also enjoyed the story told by an older gentleman who spoke about being able to read to his granddaughter. I loved it…I was sold on Literacy Volunteers that day because of the way everyone, from tutors to students, brought a passion and desire to help others. It's the cycle of life."
Cherrie MacInnes’ 3rd Grade Class
The Brewer Community School is a Community of Caring, and Cherrie MacInnes' 3rd grade class really cares. Every year, they hold a Readathon to benefit Literacy Volunteers, with MacInnes Optical donating $100 if the students read for 100 minutes.
"I've always impressed the importance of reading on my students," Cherrie says. "Every year we take one day and the entire class gets comfortable with pillows and they silently read for 100 minutes. The kids absolutely love doing it and they do realize that they are helping others who struggle with reading."
Brewer Community School also engages in additional literacy activities through its relationship with former First Lady Barbara Bush, a longtime advocate for children’s literacy.