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When Frank, a Savannah native, was a little boy, he never learned how to read a book, recite his ABC’s, or write his name. He went 78 years relying on his basic instincts and hard work to survive in his illiterate world.

“My survival skills played a big part. My work ethic paved the way, and my inability to read rarely came up,” Frank said.

When Frank was seven years old, his mother passed away. He was only in his second year of school and became responsible to help his father and six older sisters around the house.

“My father was a good man, but he was uneducated,” Frank said.

There were numerous times in school when it was time for lunch and Frank thought it was time to go home, so he did. No one from school ever called his home to say he was not attending regularly.

Frank worked 31 years at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Garden, where he retired with the nickname of “Mr. Bamboo.”

“I never once showed up late or sick. I was always on time and ready to work,” Frank said.

After retirement, Frank had more time on his plate and had one goal in mind – to learn how to read.

“After I got older and retired, I wanted to learn how to read. I wanted to finally fulfill my dream,” Frank said.

Frank got in touch with Royce Learning Center and enrolled in the Adult and Community Education Center program, also known as ACE.

“The ACE program helps students from 16 to retirement go from illiteracy to literacy,” Khani Morgan, ACE program coordinator, said.

The ACE program is one of the 83 programs funded by United Way. The funding provided to ACE allows students, like Frank, the ability to receive quality education with little to no cost.

“It was more than just a school, anything they could help you with they would do it,” Frank said.

Frank’s number one goal is to learn to read the Bible.

“He has this little way of looking up to you and smiles like ‘I got this’,” Khani said.

United Way of the Coastal Empire is committed to improving the quality of education in our communities. Learn more about our funded programs and agencies and how you can get involved today.

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