Alvin Pasco feels a calling to become a preacher. He shared his goal with his church pastor in Florida, who told him, “You have a gift for sharing your testimony, but you need to learn to read.”
Alvin remembers treating school “like a joke” when he was a child. He charmed his teachers, managed to get passed from grade to grade, and graduated without learning to read. Now, decades later, he has decided it’s time to learn. Shortly after moving from Florida to Williamsburg, he sought help from Literacy for Life.
The same week that Alvin enrolled, Chuck Mullaly attended his first tutor training. He expressed an interest in being matched with an emerging reader, and he also shared that he was a retired Episcopal priest. “It often happens that the stars align for a perfect learner-tutor match,” says Human Services Coordinator Mary Lynch, “but this one gave me goosebumps. They were perfect for each other.”
Although they have been meeting together for only five months, Alvin and Chuck are making tremendous progress as a team. Chuck, who lacks experience as a reading tutor, is learning how to teach with the Barton Reading and Spelling curriculum. Meanwhile, in addition to working on phonics and alphabetics, Chuck assists Alvin as they read and discuss the Bible together. Alvin recognizes the improvement in his reading and has also noticed practical changes in his daily life. “The other day at a restaurant, I found fish on the menu by myself,” he says. He adds with a chuckle, “My daughter couldn’t believe it.”
In addition to learning to read, Alvin expressed interest in learning to use computers and his cell phone. He began meeting with Peg Monahan, who is not only teaching him to type and search the Internet, but also to use a navigation app and to take advantage of voice-to-text tools. “Alvin is an absolute pleasure to work with,” says Peg. “The staff love having him come in twice a week. He lifts up everyone around him.”
“I love my tutors,” says Alvin. “I tell people about Literacy for Life all the time, and I come to school every chance I get.” He looks forward to returning to Florida and visiting the church and pastor who inspired him to learn. “I can’t wait to go back and show them what I’ve learned,” he says. “I’ll shock them.”