Literacy Connects helps TMC employees reach their full potential

Eli Hawley and his granddaughter Natalie Sigala

Eli Hawley and his granddaughter Natalie Sigala

“Tata, can you read this book to me?”

When 5-year-old Natalie Sigala asked her grandpa, Eli Hawley, this question, his heart sank. “No,” he said.

That’s all it took.

Hawley has been a Laundry Equipment Operator at TMC since 1994, but has been unable to read his entire life. The disappointment of having to refuse Natalie’s request propelled him to do something about his inability to read. He admits that, at first, he was mortified to reach out to anyone. Perseverance ultimately took over. “I knew I needed help. I was determined to get help one way or another. I got it – thanks to TMC,” he said.

Hawley entered a program called Literacy Connects, which is run through Literacy Volunteers of Tucson.

TMC has teamed up with the non-profit to encourage adult literacy among employees. The programs are free for adults who would like assistance with learning English, or improving English skills including speaking, reading, writing and basic math. They offer small or large group classes, tutoring and resource centers with on-site assistance.

“When I first went to school, I couldn’t read anything. Now that I’m back in school, I’m reading. It’s not at the level I want to be, but I’m getting there,” he said. “It’s helped me on the job, and it’s helped me at home. I couldn’t ask for a better place to work.”

TMC President and CEO Judy Rich said she is impressed with the courage Hawley showed. “To speak up and say ‘I need help’ is very brave,” she said. “Eli has sent me some of his papers. He gets all A’s. One of these days, he’s going to read a book to me too.”

“I’m not scared anymore, and I’m not embarrassed – because I’m doing something about it. I’ve already read five books,” he beams. “From now on, when my granddaughter says, ‘Tata, can you read this book to me?’ I can proudly say ‘yes.'”


  1. Melisa Glass says:

    Eli is an awesome person to work with. He always makes me laugh. Proud if you man for taking the step to literacy. Congrats and keep up the reading.

  2. Moira Richards, MD says:

    Eli always has a smile and a hello


  1. […] group of TMC executives who had gathered to hear him read, there was a collective sigh.  We shared Hawley’s story in April a few months after he started a program called Literacy Connects, which is run through […]

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