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  • Writer's pictureLiteracy Coalition

Echoes of Kindness

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

It was the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day of 2018. Our office was closed but I was working to wrap up some odds and ends. The phone rang and when I answered it was a nice young lady who said she was just calling to say thank you. I asked her what she was thanking us for and she told me a story that made me realize how much of an impact teaching someone to read can mean.

She told of being in the third grade and struggling, asking her single mother for help. Her mother broke down crying and explained she could not read and she could not help her. She told how that was the moment her mother decided she had to find way to get help. The Literacy Coalition was just beginning and she began meeting with a volunteer tutor.

By the time this girl was in the fifth grade her mother got married and moved away from Kokomo. By then she did know how to read. She went on to have two more daughters and insisted that they be read to an hour every night. Mom read so many children’s books to them that she eventually had memorized all the classics.

The three daughters are grown now. The oldest, who I was speaking to, graduated high school and is an army veteran. The two younger girls went to college. One is a nurse, the other a teacher. There are now seven grandchildren and grandma insists on one hour of reading every night. If mom is to busy, she will read to them over the phone. All the children who are old enough to enter school were reading ready by kindergarten.

She told me their mother was telling them the story at Christmas and they decided someone should call and say thanks. They knew no one would be there that had helped the mother but wanted to encourage us to help others. Her mother’s tutor, working an hour a week for about two years had changed the future for this family.

I asked if I could tell this story and she said I could. I asked the mother’s name and she asked that we not use it. The daughter told me they still have friends and relatives in our area and her mother still was embarrassed by her situation.

I have often talked about how illiteracy often echoes from generation to generation. This story shows the opposite is also true; it made me feel good to be a part of the Literacy Coalition even though I had nothing to do with this particular story. I wonder how many other families over the past 32 years have had their future changed by the assistance they have received here.

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