Viva Green, 31, of West Baltimore said she is determined to progress past a sixth-grade reading level to earn a high school graduate equivalency diploma.
LeKescha Brooks, 22, of Northeast Baltimore said her daughter and a desire to increase her self-esteem motivated her to start reading lessons. She hopes to become a nurse.
Loretta McClure, 49, said she was ready to go home and cry after finding a reading center -- West Baltimore's Learning Bank -- closed. "But, God says, don't quit. You came too far. So I waited at the Learning Bank until someone came."
They were among those engaged in the slow struggle to achieve adult literacy who were recognized yesterday by having their names included on links in a paper chain decking the staircase in the new Bibelot bookstore in Canton.
Each of the 300 symbolic links in the colorful chain, festively arranged in the space above most of the bookstore's browsers, represents one person's quest for a better life through reading lessons: "I'm a single mother who's wasted so many years on low-paying jobs," a woman named Barbara says on one link.
Others named reading signs, registering to vote, reading mail and writing one's life story as goals.
"The Chain to Literacy" was dreamed up by Danielle Copeland, 22, a literacy tutor and VISTA volunteer at the Greater Homewood Community Corp.
"It's a way to support and make things a little more lively for all the learners," said Copeland.
Copeland invited other literacy organizations around Baltimore to part of the arts and crafts holiday project. One student who inspired her, she said, is 54-year-old Robert Faire, who holds down three jobs but finds the time for his reading program.
Yesterday, some whose names are written in the chain came to view it in the suitably book-filled atmosphere. A Bibelot spokeswoman, Nina Rivituso, said it would be displayed until the end of the year.
Brooks said: "My daughter motivated me. I wanted to feel better about myself." She reads at a fifth-grade level now. "At Baltimore City public schools you don't have to read, you just have to be quiet," she said.
McClure said, "This chain represents our determination to win."
Pub Date: 12/17/98