Detroit, Michigan – Raymond Evans, the Dominican Literacy Center’s (DLC) first recipient of the Jennifer Buckley Award, epitomizes what the award stands for: hard work, patience, and humility. The DLC student received the award at the Tutor Appreciation Dinner on February 12, 2015, in the presence of his proud family.
Raymond will tell you that he can never give up. If he does, he will never achieve his goal. Born and raised in Detroit by his mother and grandparents, Raymond never took school seriously. He wishes he could have had that strong father figure to encourage and guide him, but he wasn’t there.
Since his attendance was so poor in his early years, Raymond found himself in the ninth grade at age 18. He was excited that he finally got to pick his classes. Unfortunately, he was late one too many times, and due to his history and his age, he was not allowed to finish school.
Raymond went from job to job, working as a meat packer and a fast food cook, in a car wash and in construction, and at the assembly line and a scrap yard. In 1994, he started working in the company where he still works today. His hard work never filled the void he felt inside because he could not read. It was embarrassing to go into a restaurant and not be able to read the menu or not to be able to read road signs.
Raymond specifically remembers the moment when he was asked to spell his middle name. He could not do it. He wanted to read so badly that he decided to go back to school. In 2007, he registered with the DLC. Dominican has been a beacon of hope to him, and he feels good about himself when he comes each week. He is grateful to his tutor, Dave DiLaura.
Raymond tells his children and grandchildren never to take for granted the free education they receive in school today. He doesn’t want them to feel the crushing embarrassment that he experienced. He wants them to be able to hold their head up high and be the person they have the potential to be.
“If you don’t try, you will never know what you could have been,” Raymond said.
Feature Photo: Michael Buckley presents the Jennifer Buckley Award to Raymond Evans.