The state Senate honored Ruth Johnson Colvin, pioneering advocate for literacy education, in Albany May 21, 2019, as part of the state’s Older New Yorkers Day observance. Senator Rachel May (D-53rd), chair of the Senate Committee on Aging, presented the resolution recognizing Colvin, 102, for her lifetime achievements and lasting impact on the field of literacy education.
Colvin, of Syracuse, founded Literacy Volunteers of America in 1962—and in doing so helped seed a worldwide movement to advance literacy for all. In 2002, Literacy Volunteers merged with Laubach Literacy International to become ProLiteracy Worldwide. Today, ProLiteracy has 1,000 member organizations across the U.S. and supports literacy programs around the world.
“Ruth Colvin reminds us all by her example of the profound positive impact one person can have on the lives of others,” said May. “In this month when we pause to honor all those older New Yorkers who volunteer so much of their time and energy to enhance our communities and quality of life, I am delighted to have this chance to recognize Ruth for her extraordinary impact that continues to change lives today.”
Colvin continues to serve as a literacy tutor in the Syracuse area today. She has traveled to 62 countries as a consultant, a trainer or a volunteer herself, and has written nine books about literacy education and about her own remarkable life journey. She is working on another book. In addition to other honors, she earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006 and induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.
The Older New Yorkers Day celebration, sponsored by the state Office for the Aging, is part of Older Americans Month, during which older volunteers from across the U.S. are recognized for their significant contributions to community life and activities.