Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with a living literacy legend. While at the ProLiteracy Conference on Adult Education in San Diego, I was amazed to see Ruth Colvin walk out of the ballroom along beside me. When she saw “Literacy Volunteers” on the logo of my ReadWest shirt, she struck up a conversation with me. I was star-struck.
You see, Ruth is the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America, which later became ProLiteracy. She spent her entire life working to address the issue of adult literacy. Her efforts on behalf of adult literacy earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006, presented by President George W. Bush. It’s also remarkable that Ruth Colvin is 102 years old.
“I’m so proud of you young women taking up the cause of adult literacy. I am glad this important work is in such capable hands,” she said.
But Ruth is not slowing down. She told me she had some more literacy conferences to attend this fall, and her memoirs will come out shortly.
“People think they should retire at age 65. But you have all this great knowledge; you should use it to do something worthwhile.”
What an inspiration. What a pleasure to be called a ‘young’ woman by my literacy hero. I rededicate my next few decades to the worthwhile cause of adult literacy in the U.S. Want to join me? Click this link to find out how and then select Get Involved!
ReadWest Adult Students achieved a total of 721 of literacy goals during the 2018 – 2019 fiscal year. Among our ESL Students, 6 ReadWest Students and 8 First Unitarian Church students gained their US Citizenship this year. Many of these students studied for their US Citizenship Exam with their one-to-one tutor. Others attended a 10-week course offered at ReadWest two times a year. This course is taught by Lynn Simson and was originated by Barbara Kitchens. Both of these women are long-time volunteers at ReadWest. The 10-week course will be offered again in the fall of 2019. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call 505-892-1131.
Pictured below is Cyndy Ratliff, ReadWest Program Coordinator; Marisol, ReadWest Student and new US Citizen; and Lynn Simson, US Citizenship Tutor.
July is the start of another Year at ReadWest. This year is unique as we celebrate 30 years of providing literacy to adults in New Mexico.
Our calendar is filled with commemorative events. This month we rolled out our 30th Anniversary Letterhead and signatures that we will use throughout the year. We will formally get the party started with our Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Dinner at San Ysidro Chapel in Corrales. Tickets for this dinner and silent auction will go on sale later this fall. In December our Annual Meeting and Luncheon will be a FREE 30th Anniversary Celebration featuring ReadWest Student Success Stories and a special guest. More celebratory events are planned, so stay tuned!
ReadWest experienced many changes last year. Our kind friends helped us settle in a new home after 22 years at our former address. However, one thing did not change. ReadWest Tutor/Student pairs met for literacy instruction continuously. Many group classes were relocated to senior centers and churches while we remodeled. Despite the facility move, ReadWest Volunteers logged 15,678 hours of service during the 2018-19 fiscal year. The Independent Sector estimates a volunteer tutor’s wage at $25.43 per hour. This means the ReadWest Adult Literacy Program contributed $398,691 of literacy service to our community. This impressive contribution was achieved by the dedicated volunteers at ReadWest. Volunteers are indeed the heart of our program. Thank you all for believing in our mission.
If you’d like to support our mission financially, consider joining our special anniversary 360° Donor Circle.
ReadWest’s mission is to provide quality one-to-one tutoring to adults seeking to transform their lives through enhanced literacy skills.
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
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.
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.
Rowena Nichols, long time ReadWest Volunteer Tutor, passed away March 14, 2018. She was 90 years old. She tutored English as a Second Language and Basic Literacy Adult Students. She tutored a dozen adult students during her years at ReadWest. After a stroke confined her to a wheelchair, she continued to write newsletter articles for ReadWest on Tutoring Adult Ideas called, “Rowena’s Corner.”
“The substantial relationship between parent involvement for the school and reading comprehension levels of fourth-grade classrooms is obvious, according to the U.S. Department of Education.7 Where parent involvement is low, the classroom mean average (reading score) is 46 points below the national average. Where involvement is high, classrooms score 28 points above the national average – a gap of 74 points. Even after controlling for other attributes of communities, schools, principals, classes, and students, that might confound this relationship, the gap is 44 points.”