Tell us a little bit about yourself: I was born in Texas and grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Memphis, Tennessee. I served three years in the US Army as a Medic. While stationed in the Panama Canal Zone, I developed a real affinity for exploring new places, cuisines, and cultures. After my discharge, I returned to Memphis where I earned a BA in History from Memphis State University. In 1978, I moved to Western Massachusetts where my first wife and I raised our daughter and son. While I have worked in a number of different fields, most of my work life was as a construction project manager and contractor.
In 2013, my second wife and I started traveling around the country. She worked temporary assignments as a Family Nurse Practitioner and I stayed busy volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, and various local nonprofits. Our first temp assignment was in Gallup, New Mexico. During our six months there, we fell in love with the Southwest. After four more years of travel, we permanently relocated to Rio Rancho in 2017.
Biggest impact books:
Nonfiction – “The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test”
Fiction – “To Kill a Mockingbird”
Favorite genre: Detective novels
Favorite author: Tony Hillerman
What Inspires You: I’m inspired by working to make the world a better place.
Favorite quote: “All animals are equal; but some animals are more equal than others.” – George Orwell in “Animal Farm”
If you could have any one superpower, which would you choose? The superpower that I would choose is the ability to spread my arms and take flight. Whenever I have a dream where I can fly, I wake up with a feeling of contentment and joy!
January 29, 2019 – ReadWest, Inc. received a $10,000 grant from the New Mexico Gas Company – an Emera Company – to support its adult literacy services. Pictured below are NM Gas Company VP Operations and ReadWest Board of Directors VP Ray Sanchez, ReadWest Executive Director Muncie Hansen, ReadWest Board of Directors President Todd Clark, and New Mexico Gas Company President Ryan Shell.
About New Mexico Gas Company
New Mexico Gas Company cares. We believe in giving back to the communities where we live and work. Our employees do that through financial donations and, most importantly, by volunteering their time. Our staff participates in many activities that help communities across New Mexico.
For more information, visit https://www.nmgco.com/
On January 23rd, approximately sixty people gathered to celebrate ReadWest’s new home at 103 Rio Rancho Blvd NE, Suite A-5, Rio Rancho, NM 87124. Rio Rancho’s Mayor Hull provided a speech, noting that ReadWest had been a part of the city nearly as long as it had been incorporated. After his speech ReadWest Board President Todd Clark and Executive Director Muncie Hansen cut the ribbon. After the ribbon cutting and presentations, everyone was invited in to enjoy refreshments and tour the new facility.
Photos were generously provided by Barnes and Noble representative Howard George who also owns a photography business.
We are excited to announce that Under Charlie’s Covers, Sandoval County’s largest bookstore, has partnered with ReadWest for #GivingTuesdayNM! They have generously agreed to donate 25% of all sales on November 27th. When we asked owner Lara Harrison about why she chose ReadWest, she said:
“Under Charlie’s Covers is committed to helping readers of every age. Adult literacy is an essential building block to future success. ReadWest is providing a crucial service to members of our community and we are proud to contribute to their important mission.”
Executive Director Muncie Hansen was thrilled about the opportunity to partner. “Partnering with Under Charlie’s Covers is a perfect fit for us. We help adults read the books that they sell.” She also noted that it was excellent timing to receive additional funding to help with the challenges of moving into a new facility.
Under Charlie’s Covers is open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on November 27th. Be sure to stop by and stock up on books for your holiday gifts. Don’t forget to treat yourself to one or two as well!
#GivingTuesdayNM is not about just one sector, cause, or community. #GivingTuesdayNM is about New Mexico.
Together we can do more.
You can find the complete list of participating organizations at www.GivingTuesdayNM.org.
In case you missed it, ReadWest has been in the news lately!
The Rio Rancho Observer published an article about the need to find a new home both in their online edition (Oct. 5) and in print. You can find the online article here.
Executive Director Muncie Hansen also made an early morning appearance on KRQE. You can watch the recording here:
You can also read the accompanying article and access it via this link. https://www.krqe.com/news/mornings/readwest-helping-adults-transform-their-lives/1574374613
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For more information contact:
ReadWest Adult Literacy Program to Move
The 29-year-old charity is seeking a new home.
October 3, 2018, Rio Rancho, New Mexico – ReadWest, Inc., one of New Mexico’s largest and oldest adult literacy programs announced today that it has been given 60 days to vacate its current location in Rio Rancho Jewish Center on Grande Ave. ReadWest has been generously housed there since 1996 at a very modest monthly rent. The current location, which is about 1600 square feet, houses two full-time and one part-time staff, has a training conference room, a library of nearly 4,000 instructional books and materials for volunteer tutors, and six small classrooms where tutors and students can meet safely without distractions. Providing space for the student/tutor pairs to meet each week plays a large part in ReadWest’s success. The experienced staff is on site to help tutors find materials in the resource library. Meeting at a regular time and location helps the student focus on his/her learning. Now the adult literacy agency will be forced to find new accommodations that will likely double in cost at the least.
“I have always been inspired by the many students who have come through our doors and overcome numerous challenges to move forward in life, “ said executive director Muncie Hansen. “Seeing their successes gives me faith that we too will rise to the current challenge and come out even stronger. “
As a volunteer-driven, community-focused nonprofit, ReadWest has taken to its network and issued a “call to action” asking for donations to assist with the upcoming move and increased operating and rental costs. Donations via credit or debit card can be made online at www.readwest.org/donate-new-home. Checks can be mailed to ReadWest, PO Box 44508, Rio Rancho, NM 87174.
Serving Bernalillo and Sandoval counties since 1989, ReadWest, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. ReadWest provides one-to-one tutoring for adult literacy, computer literacy, and English Language Learning. ReadWest has over 333 adult learners enrolled. More than 200 trained volunteers provide free literacy help once a week for two hours. Last fiscal year, ReadWest Volunteers logged 12,719 hours of literacy tutoring. According to the Independent Sector’s estimate of a volunteer tutor’s wage of $24.14 per hour, ReadWest tutors donated $307,037 worth of free literacy instruction to our community.
ESL Tutor Orientation and ESL Tutor Training
WHEN: Orientation: Thursday, September 20th 10 am or 6 pm
Training: Saturday, September 22nd 9 am to 5 pm
WHERE: ReadWest 2009 Grande Blvd SE, Rio Rancho NM 87124
CONTACT: Cyndy at email@example.com or by phone at 505-892-1131
Upcoming Basic Literacy Tutoring Training
WHEN: Saturday, October 20th 9 am to 5 pm
WHERE: ReadWest 2009 Grande Blvd SE, Rio Rancho NM 87124
CONTACT: Cyndy at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-892-1131
Our volunteer tutors make a difference.
Please ask a friend, relative, neighbor or loved one if they have 2 hours a week to tutor an adult learner.
We are out of the office today and tomorrow (September 6 & 7). We are attending the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy 31st Annual Meeting and Conference. In the meantime, we wanted to share what we are currently reading in honor of #ReadABookDay.
Cyndy Ratliff, Program Coordinator
Dean and Me: (A Love Story) by Jerry Lewis – I enjoy that era of comedy and music.
Muncie Hansen, Executive Director
I am reading The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman. I’m reading it because I just participated in an interview with Anne Hillerman, Tony’s daughter, author, and friend of ReadWest. Recently, I picked it up at the ReadWest Used Book Sale to read during my Labor Day trip to the Grand Canyon. I am a sucker for all things WESTERN.
Morgan O’Donnell, Advisory Board
I’ve got Frank Herbert’s Dune on my nightstand. I have been rereading this book for nearly 30 years. I learn something new everytime I read it. What inspired me to reread it this time was something I saw in the 2nd season of Westworld. I won’t say what so I don’t spoil anything for any Westworld fans.
Elvira Burciaga, Secretary, Board of Directors
We would love to hear what you are reading! Please share in the comments. And remember, if you decide to buy a book from Amazon, be sure to use Amazon Smile and choose ReadWest as your charity.
By Muncie Hansen, Executive Director
I recently had a wonderful experience. I had lost my debit card and called to cancel it and order a new one. However, I couldn’t answer the security questions, so I decided to talk to a human being at the bank. After a 10 minute wait, I was greeted by a smiling employee. I told him my plight. He continued to grin as he logged the information into the computer. Then he said, “Mrs. Hansen, you look very familiar. Where do you work?” I told him ReadWest Adult Literacy Program. We help adults who struggle with reading or need to learn to speak English. (This is my standard answer.) His grin got bigger. “I used to go to classes at ReadWest to learn English!” Then, I remembered him.
Abel came from Puerto Rico to live with a relative in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He told me how much he liked his ReadWest tutor and the group classes he attended with people from all over the world. He said he was grateful the program was free because he had so little money when he first arrived. After 6 months in the program, Abel spoke well enough to get a job as a shoe salesman. The new job meant he had much less time to meet one-to-one with his tutor. Before exiting the program, his tutor helped him buy some books to continue studying English on his own. Four short years later, here he is, helping this English speaker solve her banking crisis. The last time we met across a desk like this, I was assessing his English speaking and understanding. It was a full circle moment for both of us. He told me he often had clients who speak little English, so I gave him a stack of my business cards to refer them to our program. I agreed to refer my students to him if they needed to open an account. He got me a new bank card and we concluded my business. We shook hands. I told him it made my day to meet someone who had participated in our program and remembered me.
When I got in the car, I burst into tears. My heart was so full of joy and gratitude to witness the difference the little nonprofit I work for had made in this individual’s life. I feel so blessed to have a job that connects people who want to help to people who need help.
You have a history with the ReadWest Adult Literacy Program, correct? Can you tell us a little bit about that?
My very first event as a speaker attempting to follow in my Dad’s footsteps was with ReadWest. The venue was a hotel in Rio Rancho. I hadn’t done much public speaking at the time, and I remember sitting in the car in the parking lot giving myself a pep talk. Of course, the audience was warm and receptive. ReadWest has had a special place in my heart ever since.
How important has the ability to read been in your life?
It’s vital. Reading is like breathing to me.
Many of us at ReadWest are avid readers and some have a hankering to write as well. So, of course, we are curious, where do you get your ideas for a story?
Ideas come from everywhere, from conversations; from things I read in the newspaper or watch on TV; from observing people as they interact; from road trips to the reservation; from things that happened to me as a child or a teenager. I get ideas from my many years as a newspaper reporter and editor, and from growing up in a large family with five siblings, all of us very different. For me, the tricky thing is deciding which ideas have enough substance to become part of a longer story.
How do you build a story into a full book?
That’s an excellent question. I build it word-by-word, scene by scene, with a lot of hard work and concentration. I add subplots, cultural elements, descriptions of our beautiful Southwestern landscape, and perhaps some history of the real places that I write about. Then I trim it back so the plot moves forward.
How did your dad being an author influence you?
I grew up surrounded by stories and observing my Dad’s tremendous passion for his work. He and my mother were constant readers and talked about the books they loved. They both encouraged me to read and to write. They were my fans, the same way parents with children who love sports support them.
Your latest book is Cave of Bones. Can you share what your biggest challenge was in writing this book?
My biggest challenge was the Jim Chee character. After a draft of the book was finished, I decided that Chee didn’t have enough to do, so I retrofitted a more complicated subplot. Making that flow with the rest of the story kept my brain busy for a while.
Were there any surprises?
Yes, always. For me, that’s what makes writing novels so much fun. In addition to the new subplot, the character of Franklin popped up and grew into a major player, luring my main crime solver out into a blizzard to search for him. Later, Franklin gets involved in a hostage situation. I love surprises like this. People who write from outlines probably have fewer of these unexpected developments.
Audiobooks are becoming more and more popular; do you feel it’s an effective way to hear a story?
I hear from many “readers”: who are actually listeners and they tell me they enjoy the stories. My daughter has vision problems, which makes it hard for her to read a printed book so she absorbs the stories with her ears. I think audiobooks are great.
Of course, we had to ask, do you prefer traditional books or e-books for your own reading?
Normally I read paper books because I spend so much of my day staring at a screen for work. When I’m traveling I like ebooks because I can take a whole library with me.
One of our volunteers has a saying, “Writers need readers.” What are some ways that writers could be more involved with literacy?
Volunteering with programs like yours is a great way. Writers can help in schools, summer reading programs, with kids in detention facilities and with adult prisoners. There are programs that use writing to help people with dementia, PTSD, you name it. We can also help by saying yes to fundraising events that help to grow more readers.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for the opportunity to answer your questions and for all the good work ReadWest does. Teaching someone how to read is the best gift of all.
Anne Hillerman continues the mystery series her father, the best-selling author Tony Hillerman, created beginning in 1970. Anne’s debut novel, Spider Woman’s Daughter, follows the further adventures of the characters Tony Hillerman made famous: Jim Chee, Joe Leaphorn and Bernadette Manuelito. The book received the Spur Award from Western Writers of America for Best First Novel.
Her other mysteries in the series followed: Rock with Wings ( 2015), Song of the Lion, (2016), and Cave of Bones (2018). The next installment, The Tale Teller, is due for release in April, 2019. All of her books have been New York Times top-ten best sellers.
Anne belongs to many writers’ organizations and serves on the board of Western Writers of America. In 2015, she was deeply honored to be invited by the University of New Mexico to present the annual Rudolfo and Patricia Anaya Lecture on the Literature of the Southwest. She is a frequent presenter at the Tucson Festival of the Book and represented New Mexico at the National Book Festival hosted by the Library of Congress.
She lives and works in Santa Fe with frequent trips to the Navajo Nation.
Note from the ReadWest Executive Director, Muncie Hansen: For the last ten years, if ReadWest was celebrating, Anne Hillerman was there. She has been a champion for literacy and a real friend to ReadWest. At our 20th anniversary, Anne and her photographer husband, Don Strel, debuted their book, Tony Hillerman’s Landscape: On the Road with Leaphorn and Chee. Then at our 25th Anniversary, Anne had just published, The Spider Woman’s Daugther. In the historic San Ysidro chapel in Corrales, she shared the challenges of continuing the characters her father, Tony Hillerman, had created. As big fans, we celebrate her success as an award-winning western writer. She has a special place in our hearts too.
If you decide to purchase Anne’s latest book Cave of Bones, be sure to select ReadWest as your AmazonSmile charity.