As a young man Danny’s home life was in disarray. Danny and his brother ran away and joined the circus. He learned many new skills and trades during his 12 years. “I learned how to be an electrician, painter, a sheet metal person, a truck driver,” he says. “I learned how to trust people and I learned self-esteem. I was really good with numbers and I could understand blueprints fairly easily. I could build almost anything. I didn’t have to read.”
But as he got older Danny found he struggled because he couldn’t read. His wife suggested he connect with the Project Adult Literacy Society (PALS) in Edmonton. P.A.L.S. is a not-for-profit organization that helps adult learners improve their reading, writing, speaking, and math skills. It has operated in Edmonton for over 35 years.
Learning how to read later in life was a big challenge, but Danny was motivated. He had just completed a detox program. “If I was going to survive I needed to be able to understand the AA literature.”
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Danny now helps others to open doors through literacy. “The rewarding part now is being associated with P.A.L.S. and United Way,” says Danny. “There are so many adults like me out there who need help. Just helping one person really means a lot to me.”
Danny says he receives as much back from the program as he puts into it. “We were in a program the other day and the guy in front of me said, ‘I just want to read like Danny.’ I can’t tell you how that hit me.”
Danny Haines is one of the 2017 Faces of the United Way and has been featured in previous United Way poster series’ before. The United Way of the Alberta Capital Region is proud to work with this tremendous advocate for literacy and community wellness.