June 30, 2016

Why I Give: The Deep Satisfaction of Making Reading Accessible

by Charles Silverberg, 35 Year Learning Ally Volunteer

I am 84 years old, a graduate of Stanford University (A.B. ’53) and Stanford Law School (J.D. ’55), where I chaired
the Board of Visitors in 1984-85.  Following my military service in Korea I had an exciting 50-year professional career as a Los Angeles entertainment industry attorney ending with my retirement in 2007.  I wrote and lectured in my field and served as an entertainment industry arbitrator.

Charles VolunteeringMy 35-year stretch as a volunteer weekly reader of law casebooks and treatises for blind and dyslexic law students through Learning Ally, nevertheless, remains the single most rewarding ongoing experience of my life, aside from my role as a husband, father and grandfather.

I spotted an announcement in our Los Angeles legal journal in the Fall of 1981 that Recording for the Blind, as Learning Ally was then named, was seeking volunteer law readers.  I had completed various professional and community volunteer leadership roles and I promptly responded, passed my audition and began my weekly recording sessions in the Recording Studio in Hollywood followed by service in satellite studios located elsewhere in the greater Los Angeles area.  I was generally exhausted from the tensions of my full day’s work but I always felt excited and refreshed when I drove across town for each weekly session.

Charles and WifeI expected two distinct rewards from my volunteer reading: currency with legal developments, plus deep satisfaction from making reading accessible to blind and dyslexic borrowers.  The first proved illusory; I was disappointed that I couldn’t simultaneously read aloud and absorb the content.  Fortunately, the second reward far exceeded my expectations and I have been feeling inspired and rewarded ever since, and more so when I read of Learning Ally’s reach and of the achievements of its borrowers.

One of my proudest life moments occurred a few years ago when I had the honor of participating in the selection of Learning Ally’s National Achievement Awards winners and of attending the awards dinner.   I was stunned to learn of the literacy and accomplishments, academic and beyond, of every remarkable finalist.

I proudly tell friends and acquaintances about Learning Ally.

I encourage others to volunteer.  Learning Ally is our primary go-to recipient of monetary gifts for tribute purposes, such as celebratory and memorial gifts.  I know that everyone who understands how Learning Ally helps people with disabilities to access essential classwork and mind-expanding literature will want to direct charitable dollars to this inspiring organization.

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Note from Learning Ally: We want to send a huge THANK YOU to Mr. and Mrs. Silverberg for all they do. Not only has Mr. Silverberg been a volunteer reader for 35 years, but the Silverbergs are also members of our Vision Society, leaving a legacy of support for students who struggle to read the printed word. Our words cannot begin to express our gratitude. Thank you for impacting so many lives!

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– Jules Johnson


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