MODESTO -- A big move should mean big improvements for students at the Stanislaus Literacy Center.
The adult education organization has been providing free literacy, GED, English and family-learning programs to county residents since 1987. The move from two downtown locations to one larger, consolidated spot is overdue, said Executive Director Karen Williams.
"Our learning center was just out of room. They've been telling me for the last year that it's getting ridiculous. We aren't to the point of sitting on the floor yet, but we were really close," she said.
The new location at 11th and K streets has 2,500 more square feet than the old two sites combined. It also will bring the administrative side together with the programming side for the first time. Previously, the office had been at 1224 I St. and the ReadingWorks Learning Center was at 1230 13th St.
That program works with 1,500 adults and more than 200 children each year. The larger space will allow them to better help their current students and eventually serve more students.
The center will include classrooms, a computer lab, conference room, administrative offices and storage room.
Students working with the center are excited about the move. Modesto resident Amanda Griffin has been in the GED program since May. The 18-year-old takes a bus to the center four days a week. The new spot is closer to the central downtown station.
"I'm really excited to see the location they're moving to," she said. "It has more room and will be able to take in more students. It's great. Everyone deserves to get their education, I think."
Since dropping out in middle school, Griffin said she has wanted to get her GED to improve things for herself and her young daughter.
Others in the program, such as Oakdale resident Susan Wood, also are trying to better themselves and their situation. The 45-year-old dropped out of school in the 11th grade to have a family. She has worked for the past 26 years as a nursing assistant. But without her high school diploma, she could never move up to be a nurse.
With her two girls grown and four grandchildren growing up, Wood decided it was time to get her GED and become a registered nurse.
"I thought before my grandkids graduate, Grandma is going to beat them," she said.
The Literacy Center started as a spinoff of the Volunteer Center and broke off on its own in 1995. It will open at the location at 1032 11th St. on July 2.
Williams said the center has received volunteer help and local business support as part of the move. This includes networking and phones from DataPath, tile work from McBay Tile, discounted carpet cleaning from ServiceMaster and free Internet and video service hookup from Comcast.
The nonprofit gets its funding through state, federal and local government groups as well as private donations. It has about 20 full-time staff, 25 part-time workers and some 100 volunteers.
Still, some of its programs have long wait lists. More than 200 people are in line to get into the English program.
"We're hoping with bigger space we can add more staff and programs and whittle down those waiting lists," Williams said.
They are looking for more community help with the move. Williams said they need a new sign and electrical wiring. And they're always looking for more donations of things such as flat-panel computer monitors, keyboards and mice, dictionaries and supplies.
Williams said it costs $140 to take the GED, $100 for curriculum books and $500 to tutor one student for a year. But those costs are nothing compared with what a GED can mean to a student.
"Right now, if you don't have a high school diploma or GED, you're just not getting a job," she said.
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2284.