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Posted on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 : 8 a.m.

Washtenaw Literacy fundraisers at The Quarter Bistro - enjoy good food and wine while helping others learn to read

By Mary Bilyeu


Mary Bilyeu | Contributor

As I look at the shelves which contain some of my most cherished books, I am grateful for the opportunity and the ability to read them. When I take my morning medicines, I can look at the labels and know that they're mine and not Jeremy's, know how many I'm supposed to take each day, know what phone number to call when I need a refill. I'm fortunate to be able to read street names, detour signs, and other traffic designations. I am able to navigate through my life because I can read.

Many adults — too many adults — lack this ability that I take for granted, which impedes their chances at employment, compromises their ability to eat nutritiously, and can be dangerous if medications aren't taken properly because someone is incapable of following the printed dosage instructions. And thus, Washtenaw Literacy has worked since 1971 to teach those who lack reading skills, having served more than 20,000 learners and trained more than 10,000 tutors.

While Washtenaw Literacy would love to have you be one of its volunteer teachers (call 734-879-1320 if you'd like more information about becoming a tutor), this is a commitment that not everyone can pursue. But you can still support its mission by either going out to eat or by having fun at a wine tasting — how great is that?

On Thursday, Feb. 21, take this flyer with you and enjoy some wonderful food from The Quarter Bistro, which is generously helping to raise desperately needed funds to support adult literacy. (The offer is good for both dining in and take-out.) The restaurant will then donate 20 percent of your total tab to Washtenaw Literacy... so eat a good, hearty meal and be sure to have dessert and a glass of wine, as well! But remember, too, that any contribution to the cause is a tremendous help; so even if you come in and split an appetizer with a loved one, that will still provide funds that the organization will benefit from. This offer is valid for the entire day.

Another way to have fun and contribute to the good cause is to join The Quarter Bistro for a special wine tasting; this will also be held on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6-8 p.m. The cost is $30 per person, which can be paid at the door, and 20 percent of the proceeds will be donated to Washtenaw Literacy. The event will feature four seasonal wines from the restaurant's own cellar, as well as appetizers. Reservations are required; you can either call 734-879-1320 or send an email to

My good friend Deborah Torres-Gordon, a volunteer tutor with Washtenaw Literacy, says: "You can change the world by helping someone do what you already love to do — read. It's aggravating that adults can't read in this community; that means reading prescription and food labels. I once went over the nutrition information on a bottle of 'juice' with a learner, who was shocked when I pointed out that there was no actual fruit juice in it." The ability to read can truly affect one's quality of life, as even the seemingly simple act of reading a label was not possible for this student, who might possibly gain weight and suffer potentially fatal health complications as a result of her confusion and illiteracy.

So gather up your friends on Thursday, go out to eat, sign up for the wine tasting, and support Washtenaw Literacy in its efforts to teach adults to read. As Deborah says, "You will make a difference."

The Quarter Bistro
300 S. Maple Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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Mary Bilyeu writes for on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, telling about her adventures in the kitchen - making dinner, celebrating holidays, entering cooking contests, meeting new friends ... whatever strikes her fancy. She is also on a mission to find great deals for her Frugal Floozie Friday posts, seeking fabulous food at restaurants on the limited budget of only $5 per person. Feel free to email her with questions, comments, or suggestions:

Go visit Mary's blog — Food Floozie — where she enthuses and effuses over all things food-related; and look for her monthly articles in the Washtenaw Jewish News. "Like" her on Facebook, or send a tweet on Twitter, too.

The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured in this post) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15 and is a wish for all her readers - when you come to visit here, may you always be happy.