Kleenex highlights Franklin man’s journey to literacy

Photo: WKRN

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A touching video spotlights a local Nashville man who has overcome a lifelong secret.

Joseph Buford learned to read later in life through programs supported by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

Now Kleenex is documenting his success story.

Buford said he spent most of his life hiding that he couldn’t read.

Joseph Buford
Joseph Buford (Photo: WKRN)

“It was terrifying, it was actually terrifying. It’s almost like the world walked off and left you behind; that’s the way I felt,” Buford explained.

He told News 2 he led a double life.

“My children would bring me something and want me to read it to them and I would always have an excuse,” he recalled, adding that his wife didn’t even know.

“I said if you want to divorce me, leave me I’ll understand,” he said.

Buford’s wife stuck beside him he found help at the Nashville Adult Literacy Council.

“There is over 30 million adults in the United States who read at one of the lowest levels of literacy,” Denine Torr with the Dollar General Literacy Foundation told News 2.

According to Torr, for more than a decade the Dollar General Literacy Foundation has been providing funding for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council to help those like Buford.

“Our co-founder was functionally illiterate with a third grade education, Dollar General’s co-founder. So it’s nice to be able to give back to the community, unlock that potential so that they can be the next great leader whatever their dreams are be able to have the opportunity to pursue them,” said Torr.

Now more than 12 years later, and at 71-years-old, Buford said he has a new found love for reading.

Torr and Buford hope others find the courage to take advantage of the free help.

To find a literacy program in your area, visit dgliteracy.org.

To hear more of Joseph Buford’s story, click here.

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