Many adults who join the Redlands Adult Literacy Program want to improve their reading and writing skills so they can get better jobs, further their own education, and advocate for their children. Through hard work and perseverance adult learners can change their own and their families’ lives for the better. The following is a story of adult learners who graduated from the Redlands Adult Literacy Program and, with their new literacy skills, started a business, earned a GED, and encouraged their children to excel in their education.
Monica Sanchez joined the adult literacy program in February of 2014 because she needed to become an advocate for her special needs son. Working with her tutor, Rebecca McCurdy, she gained literacy skills that enabled her to communicate effectively with teachers and medical professionals, understand medical directives, and support her son. Monica’s goals changed over time to include dreams of attaining her GED, supporting her children with their education, and getting a better job. Monica diligently worked for four years in the literacy program to improve her reading, grammar, vocabulary, and writing. She celebrated when she earned her GED in 2017 because this opened doors to better employment.
In 2018, she was hired by the Redlands Unified School District to work as a campus monitor at an elementary school. Monica shared, “I liked being a campus monitor; it was a fun and comfortable job for me. I was playing with kids and getting paid for that.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of schools, Monica, like so many others, found herself unemployed. She eventually began working as a DoorDash driver and used this as an opportunity to teach her younger children about what it was like to have a job and manage their own money; they helped her leave meals on porches and Monica gave them an allowance of $1.00 per delivery.
Monica’s husband, Armando Sanchez, also joined the literacy program in 2014. His goals were to improve his reading and writing in order to advance at his job at Ashley Furniture and to have a better life. When his employer closed their doors, he went on to earn construction certificates that would enable him to get a new job at La-Z-Boy Furniture. After working long hours as a maintenance supervisor at La-Z-Boy, he decided to take a chance in life and start a business so he could spend more time with his family. Armando started a trucking business that transports pallets from Amazon warehouses to post offices in the southland. He named his company Sumbale Trucks after a word his son Allen invented when he was little. Armando’s growing business now employs four truck drivers.
Because the school closure left Monica newly unemployed, she was available to support her husband in his business. As a proficient reader and writer, she helps her husband with office work, including calculating weekly payroll for each of their employees. When asked what it was like to work with his wife, Armando replied, “Working together is good – it’s two minds, four eyes and we are a team.”
Armando and Monica are role models for their three children, encouraging them to set their own goals and to do well in school. Improving her own literacy enabled Monica to help her children with their school work.
Their oldest, Axel, was awarded scholarships for college and has graduated with a nursing degree. He works as a nurse and has a goal of becoming an ultrasound technician. Allen, their middle son has dreams of going to college and living in a dorm like his big brother. Their daughter, Amanda, sees how hard her mother works and is very proud of her.
In nearly 25 years of marriage, Monica and Armando have achieved more than they could ever have dreamed. They can communicate clearly with others. They have advanced their own education, purchased a home in this area, become U.S. Citizens, started their own business, and are strong advocates for their children. After the pandemic, Monica will begin work on her new dream, to attain her real estate certification.
Monica shared that improving her reading and writing has changed her life. “When you have a new vision, it changes everything you can see. You can learn, you can read all kinds of things, and that opens new doors.” When asked what he would tell others who want to improve their literacy, Armando said, “You can do it, I think the top is the sky. You can do anything. Improving literacy has helped me a lot.”
Since March, many families have discovered that more schooling is conducted in the home. Through the generosity of donors and grants, the adult literacy program has a wide selection of books and workbooks to assist in vocabulary building, grammar, and writing that you can search for at the library’s website www.akspl.org. Books can be checked out through Books to Go, as described at the library’s website. All materials at the library are available to all cardholders.
The pandemic has not slowed down adult literacy activities. If you are interested in becoming a tutor or if you would like help in reading and writing, please call Diane Shimota, adult literacy coordinator, at 909.798.7565, ext. 4138 or email her at email@example.com. The literacy program is free to all participants.