By Donna Marable
A bustling, inviting, happy atmosphere greets clients at the South Baldwin Literacy Council. What a pleasure it was to meet with Executive Director Mitchell Lee. This active, non-profit organization, nestled under beautiful old oak trees on Highway 98 just east of downtown Foley, Alabama, has offered a wide range of educational services and programming to residents of South Baldwin County since 1985. Their mission is to provide literacy instruction to help people in the community make a better life for themselves and their families. Mitchell is a Licensed Master Social Worker with a background in case management, youth mentoring, homelessness, and research and program evaluation.
Operating under a Board of Directors committed to meeting the learning needs in South Baldwin County, SBLC is an accredited member of ProLiteracy and is funded primarily by grants and donations. An ‘Adopt a Student’ program has just been added. Additionally, they host an annual Trivia Night fundraiser. Services are provided free-of-charge and are available for learners of all ages, languages and educational levels, including a ‘Step up to Pre K Readiness’ program and GED tutoring in both English and Spanish. The Council coordinates services with many other local organizations, currently providing computer classes, GED tutoring and ’Learn to Earn’ services for clients of Big Fish Ministries, GED tutoring for Mary’s Shelter, after-school tutoring in Daphne for the Ruff Wilson Youth Center and in Fairhope for the Rotary Youth Club. The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Boys’ Ranch has also benefitted from on-site tutoring in reading and math. SBLC has also offered employment assistance, stress management, U.S. citizenship preparation, French classes and referrals to various service agencies for other needs. The website (www.southbaldwinliteracycouncil.com) provides an in-depth look into their programs and tells interesting client success stories.
Over 500 students were served last year and a world map adorns a classroom with push pins marking over 15 home countries of students. As I left the interview the grounds quickly filled with arriving vehicles of parents and grandparents/guardians delivering many students for classes. The vibe of the arriving students literally pulsated. As I toured the grounds I viewed a ‘Blessing Box’ and a ‘Free Library Box’ further demonstrating the Literacy Council’s spirit of cooperation and caring. The value of this gift of literacy offered by the staff and the Council’s many dedicated volunteers is immeasurable!
Mitchell Lee states: “South Baldwin Literacy Council is an incredible asset to our community. We are proud to provide 1 on 1 tutoring and a variety of classes for the betterment of all. If you have been thinking of giving back, I invite you to stop by and see one of the many ways you can make a positive impact.” 21441 US Hwy 98, Foley, Alabama, 36535, (251) 943-7323
*GED (General Educational Development) – a high school equivalency program recognized by 97% of employers and colleges nationwide.