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.