Published Saturday, March 16, 2013
By REBECCA LEFTWICH
When she thinks about an illiterate adult, Lisa Johnston thinks about parents who can't read to their children or help their children with homework, about that person who can't get a job or go to college because he doesn't have a GED.
"That's why I find it really important to do what we do in the community," said Johnston, executive director of Certified Literate is Coweta's Key.
CLICK's stated mission is “to enable all individuals to improve their quality of life through literacy” by helping local citizens learn to read, write, do basic math and use computers with a view to ensuring they have the skills to lift themselves out of poverty, contribute to improved health care costs, and find and keep sustainable employment.
"You all know it's important, and that's why you're here," Johnston said by way of opening Thursday's CLICK Trivia Bee, the organization's primary annual fundraiser, which this year featured 11 sponsored teams competing for bragging rights at Newnan Carnegie Library.
"The community has been so supportive and businesses have been so generous," said Johnston, adding that CLICK likely will meet its goal of raising $10,000 through the event.
Competing teams were comprised of three members each, with participants representing civic clubs, foundations, business and industry, education and finance. Eighteen questions – including three musical queries by guitarist Jimmy Bass – set teams thinking about literature, geography, sports, pop culture and history as emcee Danny Beck poured on the levity and announced raffle winners between questions.
In the end, it was the Newnan Peachtree City Area Employer Committee team that finished with the most points. But Peter Ludlow, manager of the Georgia Department of Labor's Newnan Career Center, said the real winner is the community.
(To view photos from this event, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Events for the Photo Gallery.)
"It's one of the reasons I support the Trivia Bee," Ludlow said. "When things are done by the community in the community, you get more bang for your buck."
Of 166 jobs available locally, Ludlow said, only two do not require a GED or high school diploma.
"The whole beauty of that is, holding workers to that standard forces people to do the right thing," he said, relating the story of a woman who could not be placed in a job despite his staff's best efforts.
"She was in her 50s, broke and hungry, being completely supported by people in the community," Ludlow said. "CLICK stepped in and paid for GED classes, and three days after she earned that diploma, we got her hired."
But it was the GED-holder's next move that hit home for Ludlow.
"She didn't have anything, but the first thing she did when she got her diploma was she went out and bought a frame and hung it up on the wall of her borrowed apartment," he said.
Personal investment in adult literacy efforts only makes sense, according to Karen Kirschler, director of the adult education department at West Georgia Technical College.
"It's bigger even than helping an individual in the community learn literacy skills," she said. "It goes much further because of the ripple effect on business and economic development of a more educated workforce."
Teams made their final wagers on knowledge of authors who have held signings throughout the years at Earlene Scott's landmark downtown Newnan bookstore – Who were the authors of "Murder in Coweta County," "Elvis is Dead and I Don't Feel So Good Myself," "Peachtree Road," "It's All About Him" and "Run With the Horsemen?"
Contestants then compared notes, celebrated their efforts, picked up their prizes and headed for the door, leaving Johnston to make one final observation:
"Coweta County really cares."