Former literacy student donates $1,000 to the Bradford-Wyoming Counties Literacy Program
Published: October 13, 2013
TOWANDA — Douglas Newton of the Wyalusing area, who as an adult learned how to read through the Bradford-Wyoming Counties Literacy Program, recently gave a $1,000 donation to the program.
Sherry Spencer, the organization’s executive director, said she cannot recall another individual giving a donation that large to the program. Corporations, though, have given at that level to the organization, she said.
“We are certainly grateful for Doug’s generosity,” Spencer said after receiving Newton’s $1,000 check on Tuesday.
Newton, 58, said he made the donation so that other adults could learn how to read and “reach their dreams and goals,” just the way he did.
Newton said that when he began being tutored through the program at age 38, he was only reading at a first- to second-grade level.
After receiving literacy tutoring over a span of 12 years, he enrolled in Luzerne County Community College, where he earned an associate’s degree in general studies, Spencer said.
Newton said he earned the degree over a six-year period while working at his family’s business, Formula One Feeds in New Albany.
Now, he is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the social sciences field at Keystone College, Spencer said.
Newton said it had been his dream to be a college student.
And he said he wants to use his college education to help others.
Newton said that many people don’t want others to know they are illiterate.
But he said that for him, it was a relief to finally learn how to read and to be on the road toward fulfilling his dreams.
The Bradford-Wyoming Counties Literacy Program is completely confidential, he said, so no one will know that you are being tutored.
Learning how to read as an adult is a challenge, but it is doable, he said.
“If they (adults who are illiterate) truly want to learn how to read, it’s in them to do it,” Newton said. “It’s not an easy task. It’s really hard. It’s so easy to quit or not do it at all.”
Newton said he carries two courses a semester at Keystone while working full-time at Formula One Feeds.
He said he still has, to an extent, difficulties in reading. But, he quickly adds, “I’m reading some really high-level stuff.”
He said he has a learning disability.
He receives tutoring for his courses, and says he studies eight to 10 hours a day, seven days a week. He says the pages on his textbooks get so thin from all the studying that he has to put tape on them.
He said he had a 3.3 grade-point average at Luzerne County Community College.
At Luzerne, Newton was a good role model for the other students, because he did his assignments and had good attendance for his classes, Spencer said.
During the mid-2000s, Newton was elected to the New Albany Borough Council, Spencer said.
“I think it (serving on the council) worked out pretty well” for him, Spencer said. “I think he enjoyed it.”
However, when Newton started taking classes at Luzerne County Community College in 2006, he resigned from the council so that he could focus on his courses, she said. As a college student, he did not have enough time to spend on the council, she added.
Spencer said that Newton’s literacy tutoring helped him as a councilman.
“He had (a folder) of materials he had to read” for his work on the council, Spencer said.
Spencer said that the literacy program will probably use Newton’s donation to purchase materials for students, such as workbooks.
“We are cheering him on as he continues his education,” she said. “It’s just great that he’s doing that.”
Newton said that one of the reasons he decided to make the donation is that the literacy program has seen its state funding cut in recent years.
“I’m committed to fighting illiteracy in the United States,” Newton said. Adults who learn how to read can, for example, get their driver’s licenses and help their children do their homework, he said.
James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email; email@example.com