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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

U.S. Attorney Finley Addresses VITA Awards Luncheon Attendees


LAFAYETTE, La.–United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley was the keynote speaker at the Volunteer Instructors Teaching Adults (VITA) awards luncheon held today at the Petroleum Club. 

“I am honored that VITA invited me to speak at the luncheon celebrating the achievements of their students and tutors,” Finley said.  “The work that VITA does to promote literacy in Acadiana by teaching reading and writing skills to adults is remarkable.  The investment that tutors make in the lives of their students gives them a solid foundation to excel in every aspect of their lives.  If you help people develop a passion for learning, they will never cease to grow.  VITA volunteers, not only improve the education of those participating, but the quality of the communities where we live.”

Finley told the tutors present that they play a vital role in educating the adult population.  The situation for those who cannot read and write is difficult.  She talked about the difficulty for those who lack these skills and how challenging it is for them to improve their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Finley has seen firsthand the difficulties of those who cannot read or write. Many of them navigate their way through the justice system, and added that 63 percent of inmates cannot read.  Finley thanked the tutors present for volunteering and urged them to press on to help more students because their work makes a difference.  She also encouraged the students present to continue their education in order to achieve their fullest potential and fulfill their hopes and dreams.

The organization recognized two tutors and a student who have made remarkable achievements in the past year with awards.  They honored VITA tutors, Wendee Herold with the Martin Award and Phyllis Ledet with the 2014 Donna Groth Delhomme Memorial Award.  McKinley Milligan, a student with VITA, was presented with the 2014 Don Littlefield Memorial Award.  Milligan was injured years ago, but through the help of family, friends, therapy and the VITA program, he has obtained his high school equivalency degree.

The VITA organization matches tutors to students for two-hour sessions twice a week to help those who need help with English reading skills.  The organization tutors adult students who are no longer in school and English as a Second Language (ESL) students.  VITA is always seeking tutors and students.  To find out more, call 337-234-4600 or visit http://vitalaf.org/

Volunteer Instructors Teaching Adults Inc. was incorporated in May 1982 as a non-profit, community-based adult literacy program and was organized through the collaborative efforts of members of the Lafayette Parish School Board, RSVP, Altrusa Club, Lafayette Public Library, and community leaders in the fields of business and education.  VITA is a member of ProLiteracy America, the nation’s largest volunteer literacy organization.  Programs and services are financed by funds from the United Way, Lafayette Parish School System, Louisiana Department of Education, foundation grants, private donations and fundraising events.

Finley is the first female U.S. Attorney to serve in Louisiana.  She was selected by President Barack Obama in January of 2010, after being recommended by U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in June of 2010.  United States Attorney Finley was sworn into office on June 2, 2010 to serve the Western District of Louisiana as the chief law enforcement officer for 42 of the state’s 64 parishes.  In addition to her duties as the U.S. Attorney, Finley is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, and currently serves as Vice Chair of Attorney General Eric Holder’s Advisory Committee’s Office of Management and Budget Committee.

Updated February 29, 2016