By Yvonne Post Wise
ReadWest was barely six years old when we met in 1995. I had just returned from working 15 years in Frankfurt, Germany where I read an article in the Stars and Stripes newspaper by Barbara Bush about the desperate need for adult literacy volunteers in the U.S. It had never occurred to me so many Americans struggle to read, but according to ProLiteracy statistics, 36 million adults in the U.S. cannot read, write, or do basic math above the third grade. I should have been aware because our own son needed extra help with reading in the first grade, and I was a poor beginning reader, having to repeat a grade before it finally clicked. For some students, it never clicks, and far too many grow into adults unable to complete a job application, read a medicine label, or even a simple story to a child. Fortunate are they who find ReadWest and a caring, one-to-one tutor who can help them unlock the barriers to reading and writing and a brighter future, not only for themselves but for their family as well.
Jeanette Miller Brahl found a place for me at ReadWest, first as the Program Coordinator, then as Executive Director when she moved to the Rio Rancho School District. I was a board member for a few years and now finally an Advisory Board Member. It’s been a rewarding 26 years. The need for adult literacy only grows, but so has ReadWest, from 35 students and tutors in the Corrales Library in 1989 to hundreds today. New adult students are still knocking on our literacy center door and champion volunteers are still responding to their needs.