… – ..- -.. . -. – … / — ..-. / .-.. .. – . .-. .- -.-. -.– / -.- -.-. / .- .-. . / .-.. .. ..-. . .-.. — -. –. / .-.. . .- .-. -. . .-. … / .– …. — / -.-. — ..- .-. .- –. . — ..- … .-.. -.– / … – . .–. / — ..- – … .. -.. . / – …. . .. .-. / -.-. — — ..-. — .-. – / –.. — -. . … / – — / .. — .–. .-. — …- . / – …. . .. .-. / .-.. .. …- . … .-.-.-

Maybe you’re the person who grabbed a pencil and started deciphering the dashes and dots above. It probably took you a lot longer to read Morse code then something written in English.  You may have felt frustrated because it felt like it took forever, even though you had all the tools you needed at your fingertips. If you stuck with it because you were intrigued and knew you would have some new information when you finished, you sound a lot like the students in our Ticket to Read program—a person who works hard to improve their skills so they can better function in the world.

Maybe you went to Google and typed in Morse decoder, found a link, and had the answer in thirty seconds or less.  That sounds a lot like the students of our Digital Literacy Program  —a person who realizes technology is a tool that can make our lives easier, and wants to master the ins and outs of computers, the internet, and smart-phones to improve their quality of life.

Maybe you’re a master of Morse code because you used to sit in your basement with your grandpa sending messages into the unknown on his ham radio.  You smiled when you saw this message because it reminded you of the time you and Grandpa spent together. That sounds a lot like the parents who attend our Let’s Read Family Reading Program—a parent or aunt or uncle who knows reading with children will forge lifelong memories and improve the quality of life for everyone in the family.

Maybe you looked at that jumble of dots and dashes and thought, I’ve gone this long without learning Morse code and I’ve managed just fine.  And you are right.  You’re a productive member of society who contributes to your family and is valued by your friends and community. But, if one day the world goes all The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, and Morse becomes the most efficient way to communicate, you’ll learn it then. That makes you a lot like the 200,000 students we haven’t yet reached—people who are excellent at adapting to the world presented to them who may need help learning something in the future.

The people who would benefit from Literacy KC’s services are so good at adapting you may not recognize them when you talk to them.  It’s hard to tell who knows Morse code just by looking at them or having an everyday conversation with them, and that rings true for adults who want to improve their reading, writing, math, or digital literacy skills. To make things even more complicated, the people who need Literacy KC’s assistance probably aren’t aware we exist.

Most of our students find us by word of mouth, which is where you can help. We want to put Literacy KC’s name on the lips of every person in Kansas City, and one way to do that is by sharing or retweeting this post.  Even better, invite your friends to like our Facebook page. It doesn’t matter if they actually click on our like button, what matters is that tiny act of sending the invite puts Literacy KC on your friend’s radar, and your friend becomes part of the word-of-mouth network that steers people to Literacy KC.

p.s. If you’re wondering how to identify our students, it’s like we told you in Morse code at the beginning. “Students of Literacy KC are lifelong learners who courageously step outside their comfort zones to improve their lives.”

–Jessica Conoley is an AmeriCorps VISTA serving as the Marketing and Communications coordinator at Literacy KC.  You can read more of her work at jessicaconoley.com