Jun 4, 2010

Library cards are a beautiful, beautiful thing

Wednesday night found me standing at the counter in the library fighting back tears.

Let me back up. I'm a literacy volunteer for adults. I started in the fall of 2006 because I found a program within my community that mentioned needing more volunteers. After training, I was matched up with an adult student and we started meeting once a week. (For the sake of protecting his privacy I will from here on out refer to my student as P).

When P and I first started meeting he was 28 (or so) and tested at a fifth grade reading level. Some of his early goals to accomplish were to be able to write a check, and read the label of a prescription bottle. (Talk about putting things in perspective!)

We met for almost two years - going through weddings (mine), miscarriages (his wife), and births. We've read novels, we've read the Bible, we followed the election, and we've even done training for his job that he was able to be tested on and receive a promotion.

I was giddy for the rest of the night the first time I received a text message from him. I've seen him register to vote, and use a practice ballot so he wouldn't get flustered when he got to the voting polls the morning of the election. My heart swelled with pride when he showed me his "I Voted" sticker. That was a first for him.

A year and a half after meeting, his reading level had jumped from fifth to a seventh grade reading level. Progress indeed, my friends.

About this time last year we took a break from meeting - he had a one year old and a newborn, and well, life happens. I told the organization I volunteer through that I would take a break from tutoring and when my life got a little less crazy I would come back and take on a different student.

However, I never really got around to it but I'd been thinking about it more lately. But P and I had such a good relationship I didn't know if I would find that again, or if I really wanted to. About two weeks ago I got an unexpected phone call from P - he wanted to see how I was doing, he asked about the mister and our jobs, etc. and before he could even bring it up I told him I'd love to start meeting again if he was up for it. He was.

This brings us to Wednesday night. (We met at the library). We're going to do some more training for P's job (online courses), but his computer wasn't working, so we talked about other goals he wants to achieve, and options he's interested in. He then stood at the check out desk, gave all his information, and received his first ever library card. Even just thinking about it now gives me goosebumps.

Out of this whole experience I've been so humbled - not just by what P has wanted to accomplish or has accomplished, but also by how grateful he is for everything. He thanks me at the end of each of our meetings and he is quite possibly the sweetest guy I've ever met. He'll get frustrated with himself, but not with me. He still talks about hearing sight words on the radio and feeling proud he knows what they mean. (Sight words are words he has trouble with reading so we write it on an index card, he looks up the definition, and then we review it every week). I'm just grateful I get to be on this journey with him, and I can't wait to see what he accomplishes next.

Happy Friday, friends.

11 comments:

lucythevaliant said...

oh, what a HAPPY story! I love it!!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

What a wonderful volunteer story. Really makes you think about the things we take for granted, like our ability to read. P sounds like such a special person, so glad you've been able to work together. I bet you have both learned so much from each other!

Mandy said...

What a wonderful story! Truly. What work you do with your student is amazing. While my grandfather did graduate from high school, he can't read very well, not many people in our family know that and when I see him open a brithday card card, pause for a few minutes his eyes scanning the words it nearly breaks my heart. Reading is something that many of us just take for granted. Thanks for the work you do!

suki said...

Inspiring story! :) It's great that you both decided to continue at the same time!

Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

Best post for a Friday ever! I'm tearing up!!! This is just so great, I'm so happy that you've been able to make a difference in this mans life and at the same time he's made a difference in yours!

A D Coursey said...

this actually brought me to tears sitting at my desk. the world needs more people like you, Beck. you're my inspiration for today; when I grow up, I want to be just like you.

Little Ms Blogger said...

How awesome to visibly see and know you've made such a big, positive impact on someone.

Thanks for sharing such a great story. It's a great way to start the weekend.

Stevie said...

Oh Becky, this is such an inspiring story! I have tears streaming down my cheeks. What an amazing relationship you've developed with P. You're making this world a better place.

Diana Mieczan said...

Ohhh such a beautiful post...Made my cry...You are such an inspiration...What an amazing bond you developed with P....Its truly beautiful and magical :)
Kisses my lovely and keep up your great work!!!
Have a fun weekend and see you soon :)

S.I.F. said...

I love this Becky! You are such a rockstar for helping him like that and the friendship you've formed is amazing... so cool!

Kyla Roma said...

Oh wow!! It's just amazing to see what some people have to work to overcome just to participate in something as simple as voting or reading. You're amazing for volunteering with that program, and he's luck to have you as a friend! =)

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