Goodbye, FLC

John and intern, Amanda Terrell at the 2013 Florida Literacy Conference

John and Amanda Terrell at the 2013 Florida Literacy Conference

Some people say they’re not much for goodbyes, and then start saying goodbye. When I left New York, I gave my friends a two-week notice after having known that I would become an AmeriCorps VISTA with FLC for at least two months prior. I guess you could say I’m not one of those people. Instead, I took the time before I left to do things worth remembering and say things worth listening to without falling under the monotony of gonna-miss-yous and the like. I’d like to do that now.

When I first began here at FLC, I was excited to be a part of an organization that provided support to the community-based literacy programs throughout Florida—I had tutored before and considered going into TESOL for a year or so but decided teaching wasn’t for me. While sitting at my desk early in my year of service, I researched and found eye-opening statistics on the correlation of literacy and poverty, how low literacy skills affect a person’s life, and how much more of a chance an adult has at success if they receive their GED certificate.

As telling as the numbers were, it wasn’t until the FLC Annual Meeting at the Florida Literacy Conference, after what had already been two days of plus-12-hour event coordination and many cups of coffee, when I truly understood just how much of an impact we make on an adult learner’s life. During the meeting, students were allowed to come to the front of the room and read their stories.

After several student stories, a tall, slender man, who seemed too frail to be 35, approached the microphone with a paper in his two shaky hands. He told his story of how he came from a low-income family and dropped out of school to work in a factory in Ohio, where his right hand got severed in the machinery. Soon after the occurrence he quit, and having little money, he became homeless and soon developed an addiction to crack cocaine.

His rock bottom came when he ended him up in a hospital after he broke bones in both his legs escaping a garbage truck that had loaded his bed, a dumpster, into its bed. He then enrolled in a rehabilitation program while in jail and started taking adult education classes to take the GED test.

At the time he read his story to the audience, he still remained drug-free and passed the GED just a few weeks earlier with plans to enroll in a state college. His success after such hardships was what made me realize how valuable our work is. Of course, I already knew the correlation between education and poverty, but no amount of statistics could legitimize our work more than his story ever did.

I’ll never forget that story and how it’s just one of the thousands of stories like it. That’s what our work does for the people we serve; it enables and empowers them to find success. And that’s why I’m glad I made a living working as a VISTA rather than making a killing doing something less meaningful.

-John Sanchez, AmeriCorps VISTA

Welcome to FLC John Sanchez!

John Sanchez

My name is John and I’ll be joining FLC this year as an AmeriCorps VISTA.  I grew up on (not in) Long Island about an hour’s train ride from New York City. Prior to moving down to Florida, I graduated Stony Brook University with a B. A. in Music and in Spanish Language & Literature. While studying in school, I served as a volunteer adult literacy tutor on and off campus and worked with the New York Police & Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund as a Development Intern.  As for my life outside of work, I enjoy riding bikes, reading books, and playing board games.

My joining the FLC team is in many ways a combination of my passions for literacy education and the nonprofit sector.  In terms of my blog posts, I will mainly focus on financial, health, and digital literacy, providing you with relevant resources that you may use in your teaching. I will also be exploring other mediums of social media to share information with you! But I’ll have more on that in the coming weeks. As for now, I’m excited to begin my year at FLC and work with some of you in the future!