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Holiday Fund: Project Read learners unlock personal stories

 

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Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit Project Read-Menlo Park.

Donate now.

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Story by Mike Goodkind, Project Read-Menlo Park volunteer.

The guests filed by in small groups to the table where authors, some smiling shyly, were ready to autograph the book that had unlocked their life stories in English, a language many of the authors had only recently begun to write or even speak.

The 83-page "Pearls of Wisdom: A life of learning" was unveiled at Project Read-Menlo Park's 30th anniversary celebration in September.

The event, attended by more than 175 people, was a literary testament to the unique educational style that Project Read has brought to local learners who need literacy and other skills to improve their lives. The event also honored the tutors and staff, whose lives have been enriched by helping their neighbors.

The authors include Jose from Guatemala, who writes how he started assembling fireworks at age 6 to earn some money for his family. Fourteen years later, Jose journeyed to California to begin life as a dishwasher. He soon realized that he would need English to advance to a better job as a waiter, and then grow even further.

Tatyana, unlocking an even older memory, wrote of the doll she loved at her girlhood home in Kiev many years ago.

"The stories in the book are truly compelling and amazingly diverse, but the still untold tales of our volunteers who help our learners develop the skills they need for school and job are just as inspiring," says Roberta Roth, Project Read-Menlo Park program manager.

Volunteer tutor Debbie says she not only feels happy after tutoring sessions with Jose, but the whole experience "makes me feel good about the potential of human beings."

"What better way to celebrate our anniversary than to give our 28 authors a seat at the autograph table, an opportunity to sign their names on someone's copy of the book, and say and feel, 'I wrote that,'" Ms. Roth says.

The book is available in the library's permanent collection.

Contact Roberta Roth at rlroth@menlopark.org or (650) 330-2525 for information about obtaining a copy of the book, volunteering, or finding a tutor. Website: projectreadmenlopark.org.

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Gifts to the Almanac's Holiday Fund benefit Project Read-Menlo Park.

Donate now.

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