Claudel Boyd has a very short commute to meet up with his tutor at Literacy Network. He lives directly across the street at the Fisher Taft Apartments Senior Housing. It may not be a far walk, but it still took some concerted effort to come through the doors and enroll in tutoring.
“If it weren’t for this guy here coming over to my bench and getting me to come over I may never have done it,” Claudel says while nodding at Ezi Adesi, Literacy Network’s Director of Adult Basic Education.
Most warm days you can find Claudel visiting with other retired neighbors on the bench in front of their building. Ezi often stops to say hello and encourages the seniors to check out Literacy Network. One day Claudel finally took Ezi up on the invitation.
“At first I didn’t want to let anyone know I couldn’t read. I was like all the other people I know who are faking it by looking at papers and telling their great grandkids to ‘go ask their mother’ if they want something read,” explains Claudel. “But once I got comfortable with my tutor and stopped feeling dumb I was able to listen to what she was saying, and I began to learn the sounds of the alphabet.”
In August Literacy Network partnered with RSVP’s Bus Buddies program and offered a field trip to the Chazen Art Museum. Claudel signed up to go. “It was right down on the university. Really fancy place with nice art. This is something an uneducated person may never get to do. It was a really good day.”
“After the museum, we went to a place with sailboats, bright chairs everywhere and we sat down to fill out a survey about the trip,” Claudel explains, “Then this little white woman tells me she forgot her glasses, and asks if I can help her fill out her survey. With all the smart people all around there I was surprised she asked me to help her. Then I realized here I am helping her, not even thinking about it, and just a year ago I would have had to ask someone else for help. That’s when it hit me I really am making progress.”