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Lives Changed Through Literacy


Meet Cesar

A native Columbian, Cesar moved to the Lowcountry in 1998 with the dream of becoming a top chef. Having family in the area helped ease his transition.


Though Cesar had learned Basic English in high school and on the job, he realized he did not know enough to be truly successful in the United States.


Cesar’s first job after arriving in the Lowcountry was in housekeeping at Sea Pines. It was during his time there that he was introduced to The Literacy Center (TLC). At that time, Sea Pines offered an onsite learning program through TLC that assisted the employees with learning English.


Later Cesar acquired a job as a dishwasher at Moss Creek and began attending classes regularly at TLC’s former Wexford Learning Center. It was during this time that one of the chefs took Cesar under his wing and began teaching him about culinary arts.


Under the tutelage of his instructor Charlie McOuat, Cesar attended classes for three more years before enrolling at Technical College of the Lowcountry. Cesar earned his Associate’s degree in General Business with a certificate in culinary arts, all while working two jobs to support his family.


Cesar knew the key to improving the quality of life was to learn English. “Without The Learning Center, it would not have been possible for me because I would not have had the confidence needed to succeed,” explains Cesar.


In 2007, Cesar became a citizen of the United States. Currently, he is employed as an assistant manager at Main St. Café, where he has worked for the past three years.



Meet Antonio

Antonio is a 25-year-old who recently suffered the devastating loss of his arm in a work accident. With limited employment skills and minimal English language skills, Antonio’s future was uncertain at best. We received a call from his rehabilitation officer and were able to immediately enroll Antonio in one of our English classes.


Antonio attends class regularly and has shown significant progress. His dedication to learning can be seen in the additional time he spends in our learning lab at our Bluffton Learning Center. There, he practices his English using different language software programs. Antonio is a terrific student – engaged and motivated to learn.


With a positive outlook and infectious energy, Antonio’s enthusiasm is contagious. We are honored to be part of his journey!



Meet Johnnie

Imagine a child going all the way through school, earning a diploma and not being able to read. It is hard to believe, but it happens more than we ever hear about.


All through school, Johnnie was told by various teachers that he was not smart enough to learn, but the real problem was that he was extremely shy and suffered from a mild learning disability.


Johnnie has done very well for himself and his family, despite not being able to read. He has a very supportive wife and family. He has a good job at a local plantation and his coworkers and employers think very highly of him.


With all of that going for him, you would think he would be satisfied, but he wasn’t. In November 2013, in his late 50s, Johnnie decided to learn to read. One of his strongest motivations was not being able to help his grandchildren do their homework.


Sharon Bridges, Johnnie’s tutor at The Literacy Center (TLC), believes that, despite the challenges he faced, he was only able to be successful in life because of his strong faith. He is very active in his church and soon hopes to be able to participate in reading Bible verses to the congregation, like many of the other men.


Recently, Johnnie surprised his loved ones by writing a letter to his wife and reading it out loud to all of them. This past weekend, he achieved another goal he set for himself when he enrolled at TLC: For the very first time, he read a book to his grandchild for the first time.


The days Johnnie comes to our learning center for class are often very emotional for both his tutor and TLC staff. The sound of him reading is like music to our ears. Often we leave the office with tears in our eyes because the progress Johnnie has made in such a short time at The Literacy Center is truly amazing.