Why a moment with a picture book meant so much

Bryan Reading

First grader Bryan reads to his sponsor Erin Smith, the result of a lot of hard work.

Changes can come slowly in this line of work. Teachers and social workers walk with children and families day by day, taking small, incremental steps toward their goals.

Then a moment comes when the fruits of all that work come to light. That’s what happened for San Rafael Coordinator Lesbia Marroquin the other day, with a first grader named Bryan.

The moment
It started with a sponsor visit like many before it. But this one turned out to be different. Sponsor Erin Smith gave Bryan several books and asked if he knew how to read. Bryan’s face lit up. “Yes, I can.” His mother, Dalia, chimed in: “Our social worker Brenda tells us even during vacation he should be reading at least an hour a day.” Dalia explained that her children work in the fields in the morning, but in the afternoons, Bryan and his siblings sit in a circle, and he reads to them for an hour.

Bryan opened the book and began. “Emotion flooded our hearts,” says Lesbia, watching Bryan read. “They were tears of joy, and they were contagious,” she said. Lesbia had to leave the room for a bit, as the weight of the moment hit her, along with all those that preceded it.

All the moments before
There were the moments of Bryan in the classroom, struggling to read. There was the moment he failed first grade, the moments he was disruptive in class, the moments talking with Bryan’s mother, who worried about Bryan’s future at school. There were the moments of Bryan catching up in homework club, and dancing to songs in the children’s group. And there were all the moments that Brenda, their social worker, encouraged Bryan to read.

“Brenda tells him to read,” Dalia repeated, as her son continued reading to his sponsor. “It’s incredible how much impact our messages can have,” Lesbia said, “and how much the community is really changing.” Thank you, Brenda and Lesbia, for your hard work, for your persistence, and for your belief that change will come.

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