Sucess Stories

jessica elaine literacy


donate literacy

contact literacy council




Sucess Stories

June 2014
Meet Jesus Hernandez.

jesus augustine projectMeet Jesus Hernandez, Augustine Project student, pictured in the photo to the left with his little brother Leo, and in the photo to the right with his tutor Mary Miller. Jesus has made leaps and bounds since becoming an Augustine Project student in August, and has even started reading his tutor's augustine projectcopy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone at home in his free time. You can learn about how to become an Augustine Project tutor at an upcoming orientation. We are holding orientations this Friday and Saturday from 12-1pm, and can schedule individual orientations as needed. Contact Lily at or (828)254-3442 to learn more.

June 2014
Literacy Council Tutor Visits Student's Family in Mexico

The bond between a tutor and student can grow very strong- and sometimes stretch for thousands of miles. ESOL tutor Steve Hopkins recently traveled to Mexico with his wife, and spent a day with the family of his LCBC student, Dulce Rivera. Steve and Dulce have been working together for over four years to improve Dulce's English and to enable her to support her children's education. Steve has become very close with Dulce and the children, and has often helped them with their homework in addition to tutoring Dulce.

Here's what Steve said about his trip to Guanajuanto, Mexico to see Dulce's family:

"Most significantly for me, and I'm sure for Dulce and her family as well, was a touching and personal human bonding over several thousand miles. Joy and happiness easily trumped the language difference when we first met. Her family took steve hopkins literacya 1-hour bus ride from Leon to Guanajuato, and we drove an hour from San Miguel de Allende with our guide, Jesus. Dulce had told me her mother probably wouldn't come as it would mean having to close their small market for a day. So, an indication of how special the day was for the family, is that not only did she come, but both sisters and two nephews came as well. I had no idea, and I am not sure Dulce did either, that this was going to happen. We spent six hours together walking and seeing the sights of historic/picturesque Guanajuato, and enjoyed a long leisurely lunch at a tree-shaded outdoor cafe. Dulce had sent with me individual cards for everyone with handwritten personal notes in each, and enclosed her kids' recent school photos. Tears mixed with laughter all around. Jesus, our guide, did a masterful job of interpreting the exchange of multiple thoughts, questions, and emotions. Dulce has been in the U.S. for 13+ years, and has not seen her family in that time. And, it is unlikely, for reasons on both ends, that either will travel to the other's country. So, another reason our getting together was very special. It is so amazing to me that that the simple bond of language shrunk all those miles down to a very personal, memorable experience for each of us."

April 2014
Front Page Profile of the Literacy Council in the Asheville Citizen-Times

The Asheville Citizen-Times published a front page profile of our Adult Education program. Written by reporter Barbara Blake, the piece discusses the scope of the issue of low-literacy, and reports on some of our most inspiring student stories. Click here to read the article.

April 2014kimberly thomas wnc woman literacy
Literacy Council in WNC Woman

In the latest in our series of articles in WNC Woman, we profile Kimberly Thomas, one of our students who received her GED in January. Kimberly is also enrolled at AB Tech. Read more of her inspiring story here.

January 2014
2 Literacy Council Studens Receive Their GED.

Two ESOL students passed their U.S. Naturalization exam in January, become the 100 and 101st students to become citizens after studying for their test through the Literacy

January 2014
100th Citizenship Student Becomes a Citizen

Two ESOL students passed their U.S. Naturalization exam in January, become the 100 and 101st students to become citizens after studying for their test through the Literacy Council. 100% of the students who have studied for this exam with us have become citizens. Marta and Camila are sisters who immigrated to the United States from Mexico. Marta is married with children and Camila is a single mother. The sisters have been receiving English instruction together from a Literacy Council tutor each week for a year and a half with the goals of earning better jobs, helping their children in school, and becoming United States citizens. Marta passed the U.S. Naturalization Exam in December and Camila passed the test in January. This arduous exam requires command of the English language as well as U.S. history and civics.

December 2013
The Literacy Council Goes to Jail

Did you know that 75% of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate? Our volunteers hope to improve that statistic. Adult Education tutors now have the option to tutor inmates at Craggy prison. Currently, Craggy has an impressive library and a GED program for inmates. However, there are some men there who are unable to take advantage of these opportunities because of their literacy struggles. The Literacy Council's Adult Education Director, working closely with staff at Craggy prison, has been conducting intake meetings with carefully selected inmates and has begun to match them with tutors. Craggy staff has offered the use of their classroom space, whiteboards, and other materials that might be useful during the tutoring process. If you would like more information about this opportunity, please contact Lily at 828-254-3442 or

December 2013
Part 4 of Series in WNC Woman Magazine Profiling Lit Council Students

In the next installment of WNC Woman Magazine's series profiling our students, Adult Ed & Augustine Project Director Lily Contorer relates the story of one of our many students who hides her reading struggles from others, even from those closest to her. While "Sara" didn't want to reveal her face or real name to the public, she is very open about the ways that her reading struggles have affected her. Click here to read this poignant article.

November 27, 2013
Ashley's "Letter to the Editor"

Last Wednesday, Executive Director of the Literacy Council, Ashley Lasher, published a heartfelt thank you to our many amazing volunteers in the "Letters to the Editor" section of the Asheville Citizen-Times last week. Click here to read her her letter. 

November 2013
Part 3 of Series in WNC Woman Magazine Profiling Lit Council Students

Part Three in our series in WNC Woman Magazine highlights Claudia Camacho, who came to the United States with her husband in exile from their home country of Colombia when political opponents threatened their lives. Read her story here.

October 2013
Part 2 of Series in WNC Woman Magazine Profiling Lit Council Students

The October edition of WNC Woman is out, featuring Part 2 in a series that highlights Literacy Council students. Here is the link to our story about Elaine Young.

September 24, 2013
2013 Sector Stewardship Award

The Literacy Council was a 2013 Sector Stewardship award winner at the N.C. Center for Nonprofits conference. Click here to read the NC Center for Nonprofits press release featured in Mountain Xpress.

August 2013
Part 1 of Series in WNC Woman Magazine Profiling Lit Council Students

Here is a link to Part 1 of this series, featuring student Timica Brooks.

July 26, 2013
Publisher's Weekly article: "The Fight for Literacy in the South"

Our Executive Director, Ashley Lasher, was quoted in this Publisher's Weekly article, entitled "The Fight for Literacy in the South."

September 17, 2013
Main FM Show: “Not Until Heaven: Adult Literacy in Asheville”

The Literacy Council of Buncombe County was profiled on MAIN FM 103.7 on Tues. Sept. 17th 7:00pm. Thank you to our tutors, Jessica Rehfield, Mary Sugeir, and Jennifer Hart Love for their brilliant interviews and our students Elaine Young (also featured in the WNC Woman article) and Ricardo Sales for sharing their heartwarming stories. The 30 minute radio show was titled, “Not Until Heaven: Adult Literacy in Asheville” in response to a very powerful story shared by Elaine Young during her interview. As a child, Elaine was told by her fellow church members that, because of her educational difficulties, she would never be as good as anyone else until she got to heaven. It was a statement that both hurt and motivated Elaine to persevere through all of life’s challenges and eventually to seek assistance with reading, writing and spelling from the Literacy Council. Click here to listen to the show.

June 6, 2013
Asheville Citizen Times Augustine Project Coverage

The Asheville Citizen Times published a June 5, 2013 article about the power of the Literacy Council's Augustine Project, serving low-income children reading below grade level in Buncombe County. Click here to read the article.