Happy Friday everyone! We are back with the second story in our newest series What’s Your Story? This time we’ll hear a story from our own fearless leader here at Literacy Connexus, Lester Meriwether.

What is the Baptist Literacy Missions Center?” the store manager asked. She was preparing a receipt for me at a local office supply store. I explained that we help people who want to learn to read or speak English better. She then said, “My husband can’t read.” I was surprised. People are usually more reserved about lacking literacy skills, but she was speaking for her husband, not herself.

I offered to help. The manager’s husband, Henry, and I began to meet twice a week working through the Laubach Way to Reading Series. He said he wanted to learn to read his Bible and to take phone messages for his wife while she was at work. And Henry did learn. We began each lesson by reading a verse or two from a simplified translation of the Bible. Over the course of two and a half years, he gradually read more and more from the Bible with growing confidence. He progressed through all four skill books of the Laubach Way to Reading, learning the sounds and names of the letters and spelling rules, and so much more.

I never took a picture of Henry. He was in his sixties when we began our literacy journey. So here I am (in my sixties) simulating a literacy lesson with Wes Young, Executive Director of the Tarrant Literacy Coalition. While the bulk of the work of the Tarrant Literacy Coalition and Literacy Connexus is with persons learning English as a second language, many persons also lack basic literacy. For many of these, gaining a high school equivalency certificate is only a dream. 

Wes Young (left) and Lester Meriwether (right)
Pictured: Wes Young (left) and Lester Meriwether (right).

My own story began with my father, who dropped out of high school because he could not read. When I read to my grandchildren just as I read to my children, I am reminded of the importance of early literacy. No one read to my dad when he was a child. Fortunately, he enrolled in college with an honorable discharge from the Navy and the GI Bill. He graduated from college and ran a successful business. But his story is the exception. 

There are many adults like Henry. They look like you and me; they just lack basic literacy. Wes and I invite you to join us in changing their stories. Please contact us for more information. 

For more information about ProLiteracy’s LaubachWay to Reading, join us Friday, May 7th, for CoffeeConnexus. Here’s the link.

If you like reading these stories let us know in the comments! If you’d like to share your own story please email us at info@literacyconnexus.org.