In 1990 I was working for The Queens Borough Public Library in their Adult Learning Center as a literacy teacher. I felt that established literacy programs were not reaching the African-American community, and at this time I became aware of The National Council of The Churches of Christ in the USA’s Church & Literacy Project. The goals of the Church & Literacy Project corresponded with the needs of the African-American community and reached it through its oldest and strongest institution, The Black Church. This inspired me to establish a literacy program at The First Church of God In Christ in Saint Albans, New York.
I reached out to Ms. Margaret Shafer the director of the Church & Literacy Project and expressed my desire to establish a literacy program at my local church. That June, Ms. Shafer visited the church and we structured a program that would have made First Church and The National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. partners. She presented the proposal to the proper authorities, but it was declined.
Dismayed I sought advice from Bishop Norman Quick, pastor of Childs Memorial Temple Church of God In Christ, in Harlem, New York and at the time the president of The Council of Churches of the City of New York. He advised me to consider forming a community based organization to offer literacy programs to the African-American community.
I continued to provide help to those who were in need and I deliberated over Bishop Quick’s advice. The demands for my help increased and expanded over the next three years. To better assist the community, the Clara Cantrell Clemmons Assistance Center (CCCAC) was officially organized in September 1993. Since its inception the CCCAC has provided literacy programs and other services aimed at improving the quality of life of African-Americans, with a special focus on African-American women. The center was founded on a spiritual premise but is not under the influence of any established religious group or denomination. And while African-Americans are the primary focus, no one in need is denied services.
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