ROANOKE,Va. – Imagine being an adult and not knowing how to read or write. This was the case just 10 years ago for Alvin Riley. The love of his life, Joyce, gave him a goal to reach before they said "I do."
“She told me I had to write her a love letter,” said Alvin Riley.
Alvin and Joyce agree that having Alvin learn to read and write brought them closer together and changed their relationship for the better.
“He now writes me a lot of cards and special little love notes,” said Joyce. "And I like that and I think that makes a marriage special and it has brought us closer.”
Alvin was able to show his love through writing due to the help of the nonprofit organization Blue Ridge Literacy. The Rileys attribute Alvin's success to the patience and support from teachers like Stephanie Holladay.
“I think Alvin’s story is really representative of how literacy can serve as a bridge to hope, love and community,” said executive director of Blue Ridge Literacy Stephanie Holladay.
Holladay tells 10 News there are nearly 14,000 individuals living in the Roanoke City area that lack basic literacy skills. She says sometimes that is attributed to issues in a school system or lack of support.
Alvin says Blue Ridge Literacy and his wife are the continuous support that he needed and says it is never too late to learn.
“To anyone who is like me, I would say don't be afraid or shy, you know -- just do it,” said Alvin Riley.