AP NEWS

Army band to perform at Symphony in the Park

April 10, 2019

The Brownsville Literacy Center is celebrating its 21st annual Symphony in the Park from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Washington Park located at 700 E. Madison St.

The event this year will feature “Ft. Sam’s Own,” the 323rd Army Band from San Antonio, and the Dean Canty Big Band from Harlingen.

Emily Younger, the executive director of the Brownsville Literacy Center, is more “excited than ever” about this family-friendly “socializing occasion.”

“ We were established in 1986 as a private, non-profit organization, and we rely on the Symphony in the Park as our largest fundraiser for the year,” Younger emphasized; “we hope this year’s theme, ‘Sci-Fi and Heroes’, will make it a truly fun event.”

“ I’m especially looking forward to how creative the kids costume contest, in keeping with our theme, will be,” Younger said.

The Brownsville Literacy Center has been a fixture on East Levee Street in downtown Brownsville for 32 years, and, according to their Mission Statement, “Exists to promote literacy in the Brownsville area by providing appropriate and accessible programs designed to meet the need of underserved adults and families.”

The nine-month curriculum, from September through May, attends to over 700 students per year.

In a recent, nationwide study by the National Institute for Literacy, the results found that for adults, a lack of basic literacy skills can lead to unemployment or low-paying, dead-end jobs, or to status as a permanent political outsider with no opportunity to have their voices heard, along with the possibility that their children will repeat the cycle.

For the Brownsville area, low literacy levels can affect economic development, diminish the effectiveness of local government and citizen participation and places a heavy financial and educational burden on the school system.

“ Here at the Center, we actively celebrate our participants’ culture, heritage and family commitment while achieving Spanish and English proficiency,” Younger said. “Our adult students also develop job skills through interactive computer activities that they can perform in the Lab with, and without, their kids.”

One of the multiple class modules includes a Family Literacy class where a parent comes to the Center with their children, and while the parent(s) are in class, the kids are interactively involved in activities that include pre-reading skills, drawing and crafts, as well as Spanish and English development, “which sometimes can include role-playing, an activity that the kids really seem to enjoy,” Younger said.

In an Aug. 6, 1995, Parade Magazine article entitled, “Who Are Our Heroes?” historian Dr. Daniel Boorstin explained the difference between heroes and celebrities:

“ The hero is known for achievements, the celebrity for ‘well-knownness.’ Celebrities are people who make news, but heroes are people who make history. Time makes heroes but dissolves celebrities.”

For the Brownsville community, the Literacy Center staff continues to explore their vision to “make a dramatic improvement in the literacy levels in the Brownsville area.”

Their story is true-to-life, (not science fiction); the volunteer staff is filled with individuals who serve as everyday examples of “ordinary” heroes.

All the proceeds from the Symphony in the Park go to benefit the Literacy Center’s educational programs for underserved adults and families.

Ticket Prices are $1 for children under 12, and $12 each for kids over 13 and adults, or two tickets for $20. General admission tickets will be available on-site next Saturday at Washington Park, or can be purchased in advance at the Brownsville Literacy Center, 245 E. Levee Street, as well as Symphony in the Park through the website https://www.eventbrite.com/.

sgroves@brownsvilleherald.com