Greensboro, NC -- Imagine looking at a magazine or a newspaper, or a document you need to sign to buy a car, and not knowing what the letters mean or the words they spell.
One in five adults in Guilford County is illiterate. That's about 70,000 people in Guilford County alone.
According to Reading Connections in Greensboro, another 25 percent of adults in Guilford County function below a high school level.
Most of us probably interact on a daily basis with someone who struggles to read, people like Tony Stewart.
"I was doing well in school. Then I met this tree in the road, and I couldn't get over the tree," said Stewart.
At 57 years old, Stewart is getting help from Reading Connections.
Just a year and a half ago, Stewart was reading at a second-grade level.
"In the third grade, I couldn't pronounce 'school'," said Stewart. "My mom and dad was telling me that they're going to send me to college. And I was saying to myself, 'I'm not sure that would be a good idea'," said Stewart.
Stewart said he could read words, but could not understand what they meant.
"For four years in high school, I was between my cousin and my girlfriend, getting information...back and forth," said Stewart. "I passed everything with flying colors."
Stewart never let his secret out.
"I never expressed it to my daughter that I struggled. She thought her daddy could do anything," he said.
Last fall, Stewart made a choice to get a tutor through Reading Connections.
"Most of our students are really intelligent in multiple ways. And it's a testament to that intelligence that they've got this far in life," said Andrew Trump, Greensboro Coordinator at Reading Connections.
After spending a year and a half with a literacy tutor, Stewart advanced from a second grade reading level, to that of a fifth-grader.
"I can do things everybody else can do. I think I can hold my own now," he said.
Stewart said, he's not leaving the program any time soon. He loves learning.
But while Reading Connections has had a steady stream of students come in, they haven't had a steady stream of volunteers.
No teaching experience? No problem.
Every month, Reading Connections has training sessions in Greensboro and High Point for volunteer tutors.
Last year, Reading Connections helped more than 1,300 adults in Guilford County.
"It's an incredible learning opportunity as a volunteer and it's incredible to share this gift with someone," said Trump.
So far this year, there are 90 adults already on the waiting list for tutors.
If you want to help, call Reading Connections at 230-2223.
WFMY News 2