Pres. Jack lauds efforts to know 'joy of literacy'

Women in the Lansing Michigan Region of the Church are finding that one person can make a difference through the Gospel Literacy Effort.

Relief Society sisters spent a month working on a "Joy of Literacy" project that culminated with the recent visit by Elaine L. Jack, Relief Society general president, and Kate L. Kirkham, Relief Society general board member. Pres. Jack and Sister Kirkham were in Lansing for leadership training and to meet with local Relief Society sisters.About 400 women from the Lansing, Midland, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids stakes participated in the literacy project. Each sister was challenged to plan and accomplish something in gospel literacy and learning in one of three areas: for self, for family or for community.

Relief Society leaders recorded the results on index cards that were then hung on colorful ribbons and displayed in the cultural hall of the Lansing stake center during the regional training meeting. At the end of the meeting, the cards were put in a hand-quilted pouch and presented to Pres. Jack and Sister Kirkham to take home as a record of the "Joy of Literacy" work.

"I think these women have caught the vision that one person can make a difference," Pres. Jack told the Church News, "even if it only changes their personal outlook that reflects in the family. Home is the place of basic learning, and what a woman does there really makes a difference."

Jean Van Kammen, Grand Rapids Michigan Stake education counselor, coordinated the project, which was spearheaded by the Grand Rapids Relief Society stake presidency.

"We decided on the `Joy of Literacy' work because we wanted the women to participate in something that was fun as well as educational," Sister Van Kammen said. "We also wanted the general presidency and board to see what sisters in our stakes are doing for literacy and the good it is doing for them, their families and their communities."

Literacy efforts ranged from reading the scriptures together as a family to helping with story time at a local library. In her project, one woman read and taped several issues of the Ensign for an elderly sister. One sister helped local school children prepare for a community spelling bee, and another organized a panel to discuss a ballot issue dealing with school funding.

"A lot of sisters have gone out into the community and have really felt good about what they have done," Sister Van Kammen remarked. "Many are reading scriptures as a family and say it has brought them closer together. I think reading is the biggest necessity of life as far as education and gospel learning are concerned."

The Gospel Literacy Effort is an ongoing part of the Relief Society sesquicentennial - celebrated in 1992 - and should be "as much a part of Relief Society as homemaking and visiting teaching," Pres. Jack commented during the leadership meeting. "This Gospel Literacy Effort will make a significant difference in the lives of members."

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