Riviera Beach Literacy Project – Cathy Walsh

Riviera Beach Literacy Project – Cathy Walsh
Making an Impact:  Cathy Walsh reflects on her experience in Riviera Beach

I met Michael* through our Literacy Program, but actually meeting him took a while. For the first few weeks, he didn’t want to talk to me, or really even look at me. Yet, his teacher thought he was doing just fine because he was no longer hiding under a shelf or crying.

Every week he tried to read to me. I encouraged him often and praised him always. I probably said “Amelia Bedelia” a million times for him, but he just couldn’t pronounce it, much less read it, even though it’s his favorite series.

Michael works very hard to sit still and read, but more importantly, he works very hard just living. Michael is usually tired and hungry on Mondays, and sometimes even on Tuesdays, after being away from the school routine and breakfasts…. And he misses school on cold and rainy mornings because he doesn’t have a coat to wear… And there are always problems at home.

It’s hard for any child to learn to read, but ESPECIALLY hard under these circumstances. Helping these children might seem hopeless, but, thankfully, NOT to those who founded the Literacy Project and NOT to those who have volunteered for the past 4 years.

Two weeks ago, Michael asked his teacher if he could be first to read with me! Yes, we read yet another Amelia Bedelia story, but that day he read it beautifully! And every time he said “Amelia Bedelia”, he looked up and smiled at me! I melted as he filled me with love!

Today Michael is on track to be reading at grade level by June. And he now hugs his teacher every morning and double-checks his class work to earn extra reading time!

Michael has been given a chance … and that chance came from all of you!

*Name has been changed