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Newton Family Literacy Coalition starts hotline

COVINGTON - The Newton County Family Literacy Coalition hopes to help more children and adults with its new Family Literacy Hotline.

This month, the coalition opened its hotline, which will refer callers to area services.

"The Family Literacy Coalition has talked for years about identifying ways to help residents access services that are available to them," said Mollie Melvin, executive director of The Learning Center.

After many meetings and discussions with area agencies, the coalition decided to open a hotline.

It was opened "with the intent to provide a one-stop shop information bank of literacy services that are available in Newton County and to identify the needs for service in the county," according to a statement from the coalition.

Also, if residents of Rockdale or surrounding counties need information, they will be directed to the proper agency in their immediate area.

Residents who call 404-539-9618 will receive information about free area services like GED study, English as a second language, child and adult literacy, tutoring and after school programs and other services. The Spanish line is 706-613-1603, ext. 223.

Callers will either talk to a live person or leave a message with their name, phone number and needed services, after which their call will be returned from a hotline volunteer.

The hotline operator will provide residents with general information and contact people for their areas of need.

Melvin said if a caller has an area of service for which they are unaware, the coalition will try to find a nearby agency to help or add it to a list of needed services in the area.

Janet Hodges said she realizes some people might be hesitant to call the information line, but all names and personal information are confidential.

She said callers can dial the hotline number at any time, but calls only will be answered and returned between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The hotline is made possible by Newton County Reads, which is paying for the hotline number for the first year, said Hodges, director of Newton County Reads, a nonprofit organization that provides adult literacy programs.

The coalition is looking for volunteers to handle the hotline, as well as donors who could help with costs and any other area organizations that would like to be added to the contact list. Anyone interested should contact the coalition through the hotline.

The Newton County Family Literacy Coalition is part of Newton County's participation in the Georgia Certified Literate Community Program, which intends to help 5,970 undereducated adults in Newton County within 10 years. The group plans to meet that goal this September, making it one of 18 Georgia counties titled a Georgia Certified Literate Community.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.