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A sweet read: Adamstown Area Library helps man realize his dream
When a Brecknock Township resident asked Kathy Thren, Adamstown Area Library director, whether there would be some way to find a tutor to help him learn to read, little did he know he was embarking on a five-year journey that would help him realize a life-long goal.
Ray Boynton, 68, grew up in the City of Philadelphia. He left school to join the Navy. After his discharge, he became a craftsman, doing marble work. His wealth of knowledge about Travertine marble, which resembles a sponge, is understandable because he helped install the marble at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia.
Never losing interest in education, Boynton passed his GED test after being married and raising a family.
“It was hard,” said Boynton. “A plumber across the road from our home allowed me to use his shop to study. When I took the GED test, it was a two-day test.”
Boynton worked at a building corporation and did some electrical work before starting his own business making custom cabinetry and countertops.
“During this time my cutter broke and entered my throat,” said Boynton.
He returned to a job with better security at West Lumber in Philadelphia, working there for more than a decade.
Boynton and his family camped near and in Lancaster County for decades before deciding to make the move into the county 18 years ago.
First they camped at French Creek State Park in the primitive area.
“That area closed,” said Boynton. “We moved to another area at French Creek and eventually that area closed. Then we camped in the Brecknock area.”
Boynton is retired. He has used his skills as a gifted woodworker to help several nonprofit organizations, and volunteers mostly in the library, where he asked about someone to help him with reading.
Thren referred him to the Library Council of Lancaster-Lebanon. At first the council said he’d need to drive to Lancaster if he wanted a tutor.
“I didn’t want to drive into the city each week,” said Boynton.
Then the council called to say that there was a tutor in his area.
“I called Carolyn Wolverton,” said Boynton, “and we agreed to meet at the library.”
Wolverton, a retired educator from a college preparatory private school outside Philadelphia, had previously been trained and served as a volunteer tutor for another literacy council in the state.
“When I began volunteering at the library, Kathy Thren asked me if I’d consider signing up with the Lancaster County Literacy Council when she learned I’d tutored previously with another council,” Wolverton said.
“There’s a great need for tutors in this northern end of the county,” said Thren. “I knew she’d be very good.”
Wolverton beamed when speaking about the success Boynton has achieved.
“He consistently worked hard, and he always did his homework,” she said. “For his birthday, I gave him a dictionary. He carried it to every tutoring session and faithfully looked up words about which he was unsure. We met every week for one and a half to two hours. He’s gained confidence along with his new skills.”
“I read the newspaper, my woodworking and train magazines,” said Boynton. “I wanted to be able to read to my grandchildren. If it weren’t for Carolyn, I wouldn’t be able to read complex, technical directions for woodworking projects I do now.
“I want to give back,” said Boynton. Thren said he does a lot for the library, making more than two dozen custom toys and other items for the annual library Bucks for Books auction.
“Boynton made the huge, fundraising thermometers posted in the five communities served by the library,” said Thren. “He also adjusts our shelving as needed, and he’s made us shelving.”
Boynton waited many years to experience the sweet taste of success in reading. The end result is a win for everyone involved in this success — student, tutor, the library and the literacy council.