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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – Teaching adults to read is a simple, but incredibly valuable mission. WHNT NEWS 19 pays it forward to the Northwest Alabama Reading Aides.

Not being able to read puts you at a severe disadvantage.

“Of course, if they can’t read, they’re so limited,” says Jim Green, Northwest Alabama Reading Aides Director. “You can’t find a good job, can’t fill out an application, can’t read a pill bottle or contracts.”

It makes people vulnerable.

“We had one student who said someone had taken advantage of him because he couldn’t read,” describes Green.

It also makes people the brunt of cruel jokes.

“We had one lady whose daughters who would make fun of her and that’s why she got involved,” says Green. “She just got tired of not being able to read.”

Green and a host of volunteers are committed to changing that. They tutor people age 16 and older, including stroke victims and individuals learning English as a second language.

“Basically, the mission is to share literacy with the folks in the three counties that we cover who are either illiterate or functionally illiterate,” explains Green. “The numbers are about 15 percent in the area, so that’s about 1 in 7.”

One in seven adults can’t read. Tough numbers to hear, but board president Tricia Lane says it fuels their desire to help.

“We provide a free, confidential service to citizens in our community in the three counties that we serve – Franklin, Lauderdale and Colbert Counties,” says Lane.

Free resources to the public still costs this small organization. So, $319 is significant.

“This is huge for us,” says Lane. “This is absolutely huge!”

“I look at this as a month’s utilities, rent, or work books,” says Green.

It’s also motivation to keep up the good work.