Thursday, September 25, 2008

GLAD Remembers....

The article below was written by GLAD Immediate Past Chairman, Trish Hightower (also a GLAD founder), and read by current Chairman Phillip Heard at GLAD’s 22nd annual meeting on Sept. 9, 2008, honoring Maryhardy Bays McElwain and Don Connerley.

The Lord inspired a lot of people to become involved in helping those individuals in our community who need to learn to read. Two of those have passed on in recent months.

Hardy McElwain was inspired: Hardy initiated the trip by local leaders to Mississippi Governor Bill Allain's conference on adult literacy in 1986. She suggested that Don attend with her and Trish. Without this effort on her part, none of the following events would have occurred.

In 1990, Gold Wing Road Riders asked to raise money for GLAD with a Benefit Ride which became an annual event. For six or seven years Hardy and Trish would drive together to where the ride would end and wait sometimes for extended periods, sometimes in hot sun and sometimes in rain, but always with gratitude for the cyclists to return and present the contribution to us for GLAD.

Hardy made the library a key site for GLAD. She welcomed an array of GLAD activities in the library. She provided shelf space for the literacy books, study materials, and other learning aids that brought new readers to the library.

She agreed to be the agency submitting the application for the Workplace Literacy Grant in the early 90's. The library became the agency partner in the successful grant application managing the grant funds and operation. Hardy agreed to be the official on the GLAD Board who conducted the election of officers for the organization for many years. She was an active part of the GLAD Oversight Committee handling the responsibility of interviewing and selection individuals for various positions with GLAD's operations.
Don Connerley was inspired: Don named the Grenada League for Adult Development, GLAD, on the way back from Gov. Allain's 1986 Conference. The Adult Literacy Conference had made clear the serious need for communities to address the problem of adult illiteracy and provide a means to help people learn to read. Don, Hardy and Trish agreed to find a way to make that opportunity available in Grenada.
Don was inspired to seek a federal JTPA grant which allowed the hiring of the just-retired Director of the Mississippi Employment Service Commission, Royal Gober, to be a key person in establishing the new literacy council.
Don agreed to be GLAD's treasurer and had served in that post for 21 years when he passed away in December of 2007.
Don housed the GLAD program in his Vocational Education building for many years…first in a closet and then in the only teacher’s break room in the building. He allowed his shop class teacher and students to help build a float for the annual Christmas parades to promote GLAD and reading. His office kept track of the funds generated from JTPA and submitted the contract for that grant to the State of Mississippi each year on behalf of GLAD. He allowed tutoring and computer training in the “GLAD room” at the Vocational School that aided many students and inspired others to advance their education. As ABE Director, he sent students who struggled with Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes, which were then held at the Vocational School, to GLAD tutors to first improve their basic skills in order to be successful in pursuing their GED in ABE classes.

Both of these individuals were inspired to devote time and energy to a service that always proves life-changing for those who want to improve their reading skills. The Lord used both of these individuals to serve their community in a special way, and hundreds of people have benefited from their efforts.

As GLAD Chairman Phillip Heard commented at the annual meeting, Hardy and Phillip have, “gone on to live with the Lord in the past year.” We honor their vital contributions to GLAD.

GED Testing Center flyer