Because he was good with his hands, Patrick Bennett got by without knowing how to read.
But following the birth of his son, and with dreams of becoming a licensed mechanic, Bennett took the plunge and enrolled in a program at the Organization for Literacy in Lambton (OLL).
“Me and my wife have always said we wanted our kids to go to college or university,” he said. “So how could I tell them to go if I couldn’t attend myself?”
OLL offers free programs to help improve basic math, reading, writing and computer skills. Instructors, who offer small-group and one-on-one tutoring, built an evening schedule around Bennett’s job.
A year later, he started an auto mechanic course at Fanshawe College. Completing it wouldn’t have happened without the agency’s help, he said.
Today Bennett, 38, is a fully licensed primary mechanic specialist at C.M.V. Auto in Corunna. He hopes one day to take over the entire operation, he said.
As a boy growing up on a farm, Bennett figured out how to take just about anything apart and rebuild it. But he was deaf in one ear, something his family and teachers didn’t realize. Year after year, teachers just shuffled him along, he said.
“They just presumed I would make it through, I guess.”
Bennett is “such a success story,” said Anne Clayton, an instructor who spent many hours with him. Together they used auto repair manuals to work through words, paragraphs and definitions in preparation for the final mechanic’s test.
He passed on the first attempt.
“To write that exam for the first time and pass it, that is just marvellous,” Clayton said.
“He had the desire; most of our learners have that desire.”
The Organization for Literacy in Lambton is located in the Lochiel Kiwanis Centre at 180 College Ave. N.
This holiday season it hopes to provide new, unwrapped books to more than 2,000 children in Sarnia-Lambton.
Anyone who would like to help can call 519-332-4876 or email Rosemary at [email protected] for details.