I joined Literacy Connexus . . .
It was a pleasure to meet Lester and Donna Meriwether when my husband, Tom, was pastor of Tiburon Baptist Church in California and Lester was a young seminarian at Golden Gate Seminary, and on the staff of our church. They became our good friends.
Life is full of surprises. Years later, we were brought back together again with a common goal. As a volunteer literacy adviser for Together for Hope (TFH), the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's rural poverty initiative, I spent time researching one of the root causes of poverty: lack of literacy skills. Although my training was as a secondary/middle school teacher, I learned that what happens to children during the first three years of life in relation to words and books is crucial to their success in life. Interventions can be made along the way, but it is very difficult to change the effects of the past when there was not a richness of language and books in their early lives.
Before attending my first book fair in Eagle Pass, I was already in. But when I experienced with my ears and eyes young children creatively painting and decorating their own bookcases, I was amazed--and touched as they continued from table to table to select books. Several listened as a volunteer read stories, modeling reading in the home. The children were enthusiastic, excited, and very happy. The parents were appreciative and knew that this was a good thing. The high point of the evening for me was seeing an eight year old boy reading a Bible in his own language (Spanish) for the first time.
Last September, I witnessed a local Head Start program joining with Literacy Connexus, as teachers brought their students to a book fair. The TFH council participated as part of its meeting, and enjoyed partnering with the children: aiding in their selection of books, painting bookcases, and reading books together.
God continues to surprise me (even in retirement), but Literacy Connexus/Books for the Border has been a special surprise in my life. I'll be expecting God to send new voices to connect with us in this important effort.
Literacy Connexus Board of Directors