Literacy is a path to bettering lives

Francia works as a housekeeper at Avera. She is taking an adult literacy course through a partnership between Avera and REACH Literacy that has helped improve all aspects of her life. It may seem simple, but the difference between understanding words such as, "suite and sweet," can mean all the difference for Francia in understanding how to navigate around her community.
It can mean the difference between what hospital rooms she visits or how she interacts with patients at Avera. It can also lead to the difference between staying in her current role and a desire to move up in the medical field in South Dakota. That is the driving force for Francia and others to join REACH's adult literacy program. With a goal of improving overall literacy skills to better their workplace opportunities, REACH has partnered with local businesses like Avera, Grand Prairie Foods, and Sanford Health.

Francia came to the United States in February 2018 from Liberia. Improving her literacy skills allows her to take her work to the next level. When she first arrived, she didn't understand the semantics behind using common words like "done" instead of "finish" and "pants" instead of "trousers." Someone had to teach her different words can mean the same thing. Francia wanted to make sure she could clearly communicate and interact with patients.

"Without housekeeping, we're not going to have the nurses and doctors because things aren't going to be in order. I want, at the end of the day when they are counting who all have worked in housekeeping, my name will be mentioned. People will recognize me," said Francia. 
Making herself available to patients to have those little conversations matters, and that means improving the ability to have them, she said. "We are here to help each other. When you clean a room, the next patient to go in could be you. So, when you go into a room to clean, you clean it with all your heart."
Francia is one of 70 adults to benefit from REACH's services last year. In 2020, 1,260 hours of tutoring were provided to adult learners, which improved their reading, writing, and living skills. 85% of participants demonstrated an increase in knowledge and skills.