National Dollar General Chain Captures Local Love Story Featuring Blue Ridge Literacy Learner

Roanoke couple Alvin and Joyce Riley

She said she’d marry him, if he’d do this one thing.

Learn to read.

All he wanted to do was write her.

A love letter.

The late-in-life sweetheart story of Roanoke couple Alvin and Joyce Riley is the focus of a new advocacy video produced by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, which was established in honor of the co-founder of the national retailer. J.L. Turner was functionally illiterate with only a third-grade education before he began what grew into the Dollar General company.

In 2017, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awarded more than $7.5 million in literacy grants to nearly 870 nonprofit organizations, libraries and schools. One of those recipients was Blue Ridge Literacy, the Roanoke-based non-profit that offers literacy services to adults in the Roanoke Valley.

Through this connection, the Dollar General Literacy Foundation learned of Alvin and Joyce’s love story and sent a film crew to Roanoke last summer to interview them and Alvin’s volunteer tutor, Priscilla Casey.

Lindsey Sublett of The Dollar General Literacy Foundation said, “It means so much to us to have partners like you making dreams come true for students and their families and touching so many lives. Alvin’s story is inspiring in so many ways.”

The Rileys share a good laugh while recounting their journey.

The video, which will be used for internal advocacy purposes by Dollar General, recounts how Alvin came to be a learner at Blue Ridge Literacy. In 2007, his first wife had passed and he found a fellow churchgoer, Joyce, at his side. “I would try to cheer him up and talk to him,” Joyce said. Eventually, romance blossomed from their friendship and Alvin popped the question. Joyce said yes, with one condition. Alvin, who had been raised by his grandparents, had to learn to read.

Alvin went on to become one of the 450-plus adult learners that Blue Ridge Literacy serves annually, thanks to its volunteer tutor network and the support of the Dollar General Literacy Foundation and other donors.

Alvin’s first (but definitely not last) love letter to his wife.

“I am so proud of Alvin for all his hard work with his wife, Joyce, and tutor, Priscilla,” said Stephanie Holladay, Blue Ridge Literacy’s executive director. “I think Alvin’s story is a testament to the importance of persistence and love in achieving one’s goals. We are all very proud of his accomplishments, and it was exciting to see the finished product from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation — it’s definitely a tearjerker!”

To view the video, go to:

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