On Wednesday night, Literacy Partners, New York’s only nationally accredited adult education program, hosted their 29th Annual Evening of Readings and Gala Dinner Dance to raise money for literacy programs and honor contributors to the organization.
Hosted by famed journalist Liz Smith, a founding member of Literacy Partners, the gala featured readings from Jon Meacham, Pulitzer prize-winning author who most recently penned Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power; Bill O’Reilly, of Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of bestsellers such as Killing Lincoln; and Elizabeth Strout, a Pulitzer prize-winner who read from her upcoming book The Burgess Boys. Patricia Cornwell and Tatiana Von Furstenberg were honored for their dedication to the nonprofit, and the second annual Lizzie award, named after Liz Smith’s herself to exemplify her passion and commitment to the written word, was presented to biographer and novelist Jacqueline Weld Drake.
“There’s nothing more important than literacy,” Jon Meacham told DuJour at the event. “I think that for many people, illiteracy seems remote,” he continued, “yet for so many people it’s tragically a sad and grim reality.”
Guests learned first-hand what this reality is like during the eagerly anticipated student reading. In a moving speech, Literacy Partners student Yvonne Hoyte spoke of how the organization helped her overcome the fear of admitting her illiteracy, and take action to change it. “It’s hard, but I am going to get my GED,” said Yvonne. “Now, I see a new journey that I am beginning.”
“You know what else?” she concluded to a standing ovation, “I may want to write a book someday.”