Ronnie Singleton’s childhood began and ended in Charleston, South Carolina. Out of necessity to support his mother and siblings, Ronnie dropped out of school at nine years old to work in the fields and grocery stores. His father was an abusive man, and a lot of responsibility fell on Ronnie’s young shoulders. After a particularly bad fight with his father, Ronnie’s mother quietly slipped him twenty dollars to get as far away as he could to keep him safe from his father. Eleven-year-old Ronnie went to the bus station and asked how far twenty dollars would get him and was told Goldsboro, NC.
Not knowing anyone in this new city, Ronnie slept on the streets under bridges from age eleven to eighteen while working for a company making manhole covers. His life changed when a Good Samaritan found him and took him to a halfway house where he could live for $25 a week. Ronnie was able to get a second job and met the girl who would become his wife of 38 years now, Della. Doors opened for work at Lenoir County Public Schools and eventually at Wayne Community College, where he stayed until he retired. All the while, Ronnie could not read, but very few people knew that.
His wife, Della, did. She helped him through the years and also helped their children with their lessons. Reflecting back, Ronnie comments, “I always wanted to learn to read, but no one offered it to me. My father took my education from me.” Unfortunately, his work did not allow time for school. He was more focused on making money to support his family, and he could hear news from the television.
Four years ago, Ronnie walked through the doors of Literacy Connections and began working with a tutor so he could learn to read. Ronnie remarks, “I love Connor’s ability to teach me and I understand more with his help. The key is open communication and having a great relationship.” Connor is using his English degree to become a teacher, and he is regularly here in the center working with Ronnie.
Ronnie’s optimism is amazing after all he has been through. He gives encouragement to the other students in the center telling them, “Do not waste any time. Failure is not an option. You fail because you gave up. Now, I love to read!” Ronnie has focused on reading the Bible during his time at Literacy Connections and has completed the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, King James version. Ronnie’s wife, children, friends, and church are very proud of him, and so is the staff of Literacy Connections. He inspires us to never give up! His message is one we carry to others in the community who may be caught in the private struggle of illiteracy. In the words of Ronnie Singleton, “once you come through the Literacy Connections doors, there are people waiting with open arms to help.”