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Reprinted from A Taste of TASK Spring 2007

"I Couldn't Read a Lick"

When Shirley first entered the TASK dining room/classroom, the first person with whom she spoke was Kelly Hansen, our Adult Education Coordinator. Three years later, Kelly still remembers the above-mentioned expression that Shirley used the first day she came.


Shirley's nephew told her about the TASK Adult Education Program (AEP). As a child, she attended public schools but was put in all-girl classes where she was taught sewing and baking, but was not given a chance to read. She had been diagnosed with a learning disability and, at the time, the teacher assumed that girls like Shirley would only have children and bake cookies. As an adult, Shirley admitted she "wanted to learn more, but was scared...I prayed over it, and then I came to TASK."

Three years later, Shirley reads magazines, novels, the Bible...everything she can. "I can read my mail. I couldn't do that before. Before, I wouldn't even buy a newspaper." At the AEP trip to the library this past November, Shirley received her first library card and checked out several books.

"She has made remarkable progress over these past three years," Kelly comments. She has done several public speaking events on behalf of TASK as well. "She is a very gifted public speaker."

Shirley's enthusiasm is contagious. "I love it here. There are wonderful tutors and teachers. Every day I come, I'm learning something. A few years ago, if you told me that I'd be able to read like this, I wouldn't have believed it. Now I surprise myself. I can help my granddaughter with her homework. It's a wonderful feeling. Before I tried to help her but I couldn't. I felt I was being less than a grandmother. I felt I was letting her down and letting myself down. Now I put on my thinking cap and we get it together."

"All my tutors are marvelous. Why couldn't I have teachers like that as a child? There's no telling where I'd be. This is the support that I needed."

Five years later, Shirley still comes to study in our AEP.
Shirley's reading has been continuously improving.

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In Plain Sight: The Story of TASK

By LEE SEGLEM, Member of TASK Board of Trustees


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