Literacy Organization Lets its Light Shine

Light a Candle for Literacy Holds Seventh Annual Parade and Festival

Illiteracy affects over 700 million people around the world. Americans are not immune. Family Literacy Alliance of Greater Syracuse (FLAGS) reports 25% of Americans are illiterate.

In a local survey, it found that 24 percent of adults over 16 in Syracuse could not perform basic tasks like reading a newspaper, a map or drug prescriptions. They live in virtual darkness, searching for a way out.

In Syracuse and CNY, many organizations are working to shed light on the problem of illiteracy. One organization is “Light a Candle for Literacy” (LACFL). LACFL has been “letting its light shine” for more than seven years.

On Saturday, June 2, LACFL held its Seventh Annual Light a Candle for Literacy Parade and Festival. The parade started at 12:30 p.m. at the Beauchamp Library, 2111 S. Salina St. and made its way to the final destination, Danforth School.

The Moore Family enjoys the festival held at Danforth School.

The seventh annual festival followed with more than 100 festivalgoers being treated to entertainment, exhibits, food, fun and free books.

People from the community including Andy Moore and his wife, Jackie Warren-Moore enjoyed the festivities.  “I love it.  Syracuse needs more of this interaction between neighborhood people; young kids seeing us doing responsible things and acting civil,” he said.  “I’m glad to see police officers and firefighters of color.  It makes me feel good for young Black people to be here and see that.”

Firefighters from Syracuse Fire Department Engine Company Eight Pose for a picture following the parade: from left to right, Jared Vidler, Cashmier KotLarz III, Jamel Mitchell and Lt. Ray Duncanson.

Lt. Duncanson who attended with firefighters from Station 8 echoed these sentiments.  “I think that anything positive in a neighborhood that has seen such adversity is a good thing,” he said.  “Anytime that we can show up, and the youth can see something that they can aspire to be or aspire to do is always a positive thing.”

Geneva Hayden, founder of the organization, explained how it all began. “I stopped in a Beauchamp Library and asked if we could begin a literacy program in our community.  They said, ‘yes.’  So, we began, and we are in the seventh phase of the program, ” she said.

Since that time, the organization has striven to build healthier communities by contributing to the development of children.  Its goal is to make literacy a priority in every home.

“We are going to continue to do this.  We are trying to build a strong foundation within our community,” she said.  “Literacy is the core supporting that foundation for our children.”

Fay Johnson and Peaches Huddleson admire the selection of donated books during the event.

Hayden is looking to hand over the reigns of leadership to the younger generation.  “I’m trying to move myself away and allow the younger people to become a part.  We have a young director on board, Cherise Hunter.  We are looking to hire an additional person, man or woman, to help her,” she said.

Hunter has been involved with the organization for four years. She normally works behind the scenes. However, this year was different. This year she organized the event for the first time.

“It’s an honor to be able to give back to the community, bring literacy to the community, and offer a free event where they can enjoy themselves,” she said.  “Our kids are our future.  We need to steer them in the right direction or we will fail in the years to come.”

LACFL is available to set up tables for local events.  You can contact Cherise Hunter through the Beauchamp Library, by email, or by cell phone at (315) 569-9793 for additional information on the Light a Candle for Literacy.



— Article and photos by Keith Muhammad, The Stand Community Correspondent

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