Henderson County has an estimated 8,300 illiterate and 18,000 low-literate adult residents. The Blue Ridge Literacy Council (BRLC) uses volunteers to provide their adults with free one-on-one literacy training. Since 1990, G'Anne Sparks, has volunteered for the BRLC. With her help, BRLC has grown from an organization serving 83 students per year to a thriving volunteer organization serving more than 300 students per year with an estimated 200 volunteer tutors.
Sparks first contributed her services by introducing computers to the organization. Databases and word processing capabilities allowed the council to provide more efficient student and volunteer support. Her work in obtaining a student computer and putting together software resources has resulted in more than 75 students making use of technology and BRLC being name one of the three top literacy councils for use of technology in North Carolina.
In 1991, Sparks helped to organize the first Western North Carolina Literacy Conference, bringing together adult literacy professionals, volunteers and students from Western NC and other neighboring states. Presenters at the conference offered training in subjects such as ESL, Learning Disabilities, student support groups and grant writing.
Sparks became the advisor of the Writing Project, formed at the third Western North Carolina Literacy Conference. Sparks works with students, facilitating their writing. She compiles their stories into an annually published book, which is widely distributed. She also writes grants, solicits donations and makes personal contributions to the program.
Sparks' work on learning disabilities has led the BRLC to be chosen as one of six local project sites in North Carolina to participate in the National Learning Disabilities Training and Dissemination Project. In addition, she was chosen as one of three individuals to make up a State Training Corps. Sparks is, however, described as being most outstanding in her unwavering commitment to each individual student. From this commitment comes her desire, ability and dedication to serve, in any way possible, the adult literacy movement.