Volunteer Spotlight: Doug Butler


Name: Doug Butler



Adult Basic Education


Time with LIFT:


6 years

About Doug: I grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Boston University School of Law. I then moved to Dallas where I’ve been a trial lawyer for over 30 years lately adding intellectual property law to my practice. I have two children and two step-children. I referee high school basketball for fun. But, my greatest pleasure is teaching at LIFT and producing a documentary film about adult illiteracy.  
 What brought you to LIFT?  

 “During my first year of practicing law I was sent to take the testimony of a witness. It was supposed to be easy because all I had to do was get the witness to admit he understood a document when he signed it. I mean, his name was written next to the “x”; so, how hard could it be. Well, he hadn’t written his name. Someone else did. And, he wasn’t sure that was his “x”. Who could tell?  Once he told me, reluctantly, that he couldn’t read or write, I knew I had my work cut out for me.  But, it wasn’t until 20 years later when I heard Lisa Hembry interviewed on our local NPR station that I was drawn to learn more about the issue. That desire to learn more brought me to LIFT. ” 

 What’s your favorite thing about volunteering at LIFT?  

 It is simply amazing to watch people begin to read and write when they’d thought they never would. I love listening to them read out loud in class which I know is the last thing they wanted to do when they first came to LIFT. And, when a class member shares with me the story of their struggle, it’s usually because they are confident they have overcome it. 

I really appreciate all of the LIFT donors, board members, officers, staff and volunteers. The success of our students results from their hard work and the commitment and effort of the entire LIFT team. 

 Any advice for students?  

It is not your fault that you didn’t learn to read and write. No matter what anyone told you, you can learn to do both. We can teach you. Commit yourself to the program, trust the process, try to make it to every class, and be patient with yourself. 

 What would say to someone considering becoming a volunteer at LIFT?  

DO IT, but only if you want to truly impact peoples’ lives in profound ways. If you volunteer, don’t be casual in your efforts. This might be the last time one of the class members will try to learn to read or get their GED. We owe them our best effort.