Laubach Literacy Program ~ Shanda’s Story. #WATWB

The #WATWB was created as a mission to negate the overwhelming negativity that has been present in our social media streams. For every negative news story in the world, there are plenty of positive, uplifting stories that show hope, compassion and the resiliency of everyday people who face insurmountable challenges. Our hope is to share heartwarming stories that lift the human spirit.

The last Friday of every month bloggers will share their stories led by five co-hosts, this month’s co-hosts are Simon Falk, Inderpreet Kaur Uppal, Mary J. Giese, Peter Nena and Belinda Witzenhausen.





The most rewarding volunteer work I had ever done was to become tutor for the Laubach Literacy program.  I received so much satisfaction and pleasure when my students reached the goals they set for themselves. The stories for most of my students had a happy ending just like Shanda’s below.

 Shanda’s Story: My Second Chance

 Shanda’s life had  been affected from childhood with reading and spelling problems and she was pegged as a troubled teen.  However, her story started in high school, she seldom attended classes as her reading skills were such an embarrassment, it made her hate school.

Her last memory of school is one that has continuously haunted her; it was in her grade ten cooking class.  The teacher announced that everyone would participate in reading through a story about salmonella poisoning. She assigned parts of the story to each student and it was to be read aloud.  Although she pleaded with the teacher who was insistent that she should read her part. At this time her classmates started laughing she was so embarrassed she walked out of the class and that was one of the last days she attended that school.

Since she had dropped out of school and was without responsibility, her Mom felt it was time for me to get a job.  Her Mom had talked to her boss at work; who agreed to give her  a job in his factory. She took this job gladly. She would have never been able to make a proper resume or fill out a job application. With this job came more responsibilities, Shanda was to pay her Mom rent and gas money for rides to work. At this time she was only fifteen years old and had never had to be this accountable before. As life went on, and years had passed her by she had been through a few different jobs, and never really liked any of them.

She became a mother at the young age of 18, and had no choice but to keep jobs she didn’t like. Often her reading problems would interfere with the jobs.  She believed this is what caused her to dislike her jobs even more. How could someone who was hiding the fact that she couldn’t read, ever feel comfortable in a work environment?

Once her child became of school age, she really started to dread the fact that her daughter would soon start to figure out that her Mommy wasn’t able to read. She couldn’t imagine herself trying to explain to a four year old that she couldn’t read and knew something had to be done.

The next step was to admit her problem to others and try to find help. After some searching to the best of her abilities at the time, and ended up finding a private tutor.  This only lasted a few months, due to the fact that the cost to have her help was just too much for her to afford.

At this point she had quit a job working for a collections agency. She had a hard time keeping up with the reading that was required.  Quitting it was not easy on her home life. She had no income and that alone was a huge problem. If it wasn’t for her Mom helping she would have been without a place for both her and daughter to live. She found herself falling into depression

After a few months of not having income, she had no choices, but go get help from social assistance or having no place to live.  Her Mom could no longer provide for her and her daughter, so she did what she had to do. She was really that she had to go this way, but she soon realized this could  be her second chance and she was fortunate enough to have social workers who were kind and willing to help as much as possible.

Her second chance came when she had a conversation with a worker about the possibility of a future with a grade twelve. The worker referred me to a program that social assistance runs called  the L.E.A.P. program. During the meeting with a L.E.A.P counsellor we discussed where she would begin. She would have to be assessed and then improve basic literacy skills first.

This program helps young people with children reach their goals of furthering their education. Before she could ever think about entering a credit program, she first had to correct her reading difficulties. During a meeting with a L.E.A.P. counsellor  discussed where she would be able to go to receive help. This is when she was introduced to the Adult Literacy & Basic Skills Program.

Her first day in the classroom was somewhat nerve-wracking, but this feeling soon faded away. The classroom environment was so much different from anything she had ever seen before. Everyone was welcoming and accepting of each other, also willing to help one another when needed.

Shanda has spent over a year and a half in this program and doing things she never thought she was capable of. Currently attempting to complete a G.E.D online preparation course. Her goal is to get a G.E.D. diploma and to find something that would help her to have a career that will be enjoyable, and allow her to provide for her child.


For more information or to join our #WATWB please click here! 


10 thoughts on “Laubach Literacy Program ~ Shanda’s Story. #WATWB

  1. Programs and projects that offer the gift of learning to read are always heartwarming news. An anthology project for which I received an invitation to participate donates the sales proceeds to Read Aloud America in Honolulu.

  2. Reading is such an important part of life yet it is so painful for many. I know many kids who struggle with the same. In India we have 2 languages and often one is translated into the other to help learning. Quite difficult but works for some. 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing and joining us! Team #WATWB

    1. Thank you Hilary, this is my passion. I have always had so much enjoyment out of reading. I just love helping those who cannot. My favorite volunteer work ever.

  3. To help lead someone to literacy is indeed a great gift, and this is a truly a heart-warming story. May Shanda find an easier time as she navigates through life. Your volunteer work has inspired me Professor Owl, and I will be looking into this.

    1. Thanks Deborah,
      For your kind words, they are greatly appreciated. I have volunteered a lot in my life time, but found this to be the most satisfying and received so much pleasure when I found my students living their dream and feeling so proud of their accomplishments.
      Warm regards. Sylvia AKA Professorowl

  4. This resonated with me.
    Literacy levels in my country are poor. I don’t want to go into details because there are various ways in which it’s defined and measured which becomes quite problematic, but let me give it to you from a different perspective… 83% of the population are ASSUMED to be literate.
    I’m one of the fortunate ones, as my mother always made sure there were books in our home. She had a Reader’s Digest subscription and always bought the small monthly RD books as well as the Reader’s Digest Condensed books. We also had library cards and she took us to the public library at least once a week.
    I ALWAYS stress the importance of reading, to my students.
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful story! 🙂

    1. Many thanks for your kind words, they are greatly appreciated. I love to meet people who are like minded about reading being so important. Warm regards. Sylvia AKA ~ Professorowl/Writingmama

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