Pat Peck believes she taught her father to read. Being from a very large family from the “hills of Kentucky,” her father only attended school to the second grade then had to help out at home. Years later, when doing genealogy research, Pat found where he had filed for a marriage license and signed with a “x.” She remembered sitting on his lap as a young girl and being told to read the newspaper to him while running her finger under the words as she read. (She never remembers him reading the newspaper before then). Later, her father seemed to be able to slowly read the newspaper on his own.
“I realized, though, that just because Dad couldn’t read didn’t mean he wasn’t smart,” she recalls. “He had amazing ways to figure things out.”
She thought about her father’s experience when she first learned about Oakland Literacy Council twenty-some years ago. The Council needed tutors, and Pat readily volunteered. Her first student was an adult who struggled with a learning disability. Two years later, with Pat’s help, he could read street signs and the comics. “His world got a lot bigger,” she says. Later, she tutored a couple from Vietnam, who would go on to become U.S. citizens and send their daughter to medical school.
When she and her husband began spending part of the year in Florida, she looked for other ways to volunteer for the Council besides tutoring. She began helping out in the office, and then came the request, about 10 years ago, to help with “a little book sale.” That sale turned out to be Bookstock, metro Detroit’s largest used book and media sale, a weeklong extravaganza that occurs each spring in support of local educational charities.
In exchange for a portion of Bookstock’s proceeds, Oakland Literacy Council provides volunteers from Friday evening through Saturday evening of the sale. Soon Pat was coordinating volunteers during the Council’s stint for those first years. Pat jokingly recalls, “I think I put about 20,000 steps on my pedometer that Friday night and just that many the following day.”
Pat still volunteers at the sale, and she is a regular volunteer at Bookstock’s collection depot in West Bloomfield, too. She helps sort donated books and materials in the months leading up to the sale. For the 2020 sale, Pat will serve as a co-director of Bookstock’s Treasury Team. Every hour she works with Bookstock is an hour of benefit for Oakland Literacy, as she continues to donate all of her hours to the Council. Bookstock counts volunteer hours towards the funds it disburses.
Pat remains as committed to the Council’s mission today as she was 20 years ago. “I feel like the work the council does─the one-on-one tutoring─is not available anywhere else,” she says. “It changes lives every day.”