Sometimes those who inspire others may find their own inspiration in the very people that they help. Just ask Karen Masada, student-tutor coordinator of Santa Clara City Library’s Read Santa Clara, an adult literacy program. Masada remembers feeling touched seeing one learner work on her wedding vows and another learner write her mother’s obituary during their tutoring sessions. According to Shanti Bhaskaran, literary program supervisor, 114 volunteers gave over 4,100 hours of volunteering to assist in Read Santa Clara last year. Masada and Bhaskaran, nominated by library board trustee member Betsy Megas, were two of 25 women recognized by Assemblymember Kansen Chu as Inspirational Women during a March 10 ceremony at the Berryessa Community Center in San Jose.
“I was proud to sponsor this event as an opportunity to recognize the many contributions which so many women make each day to improve our state and the 25th district,” says Chu.
Both Bhaskaran and Masada felt honored to receive their ribbons and certificates.
“Frankly, I’m more inspired by the people I work with, and they are the volunteers and adult learners,” Bhaskaran says. “I’m just grateful whenever adult literacy is in the spotlight. So often adult literacy is an invisible issue in our community but it impacts one of every six American adults…I’m glad Read Santa Clara can be part of the solution for this issue.”
“I feel I could have received an award for being a woman who was inspired, because we work with so many amazing tutors and hardworking learners in the program,” Masada says. “A few learners came as guests to the reception and one of them even practiced reading from the program before things got started.”
Having seen learners go on to find employment, vote and live enhanced lives, Masada hopes her award will help bring more attention to Read Santa Clara.
“If there are adults out there who are embarrassed and ashamed, there are volunteers here to help them,” Masada says. “A mother shared that her daughter’s teacher thought she was a horrible parent who didn’t care about her child’s education because she never responded to the teacher’s emails. But this mother preferred that the teacher would think she was uncaring instead of dumb. Neither description fit this mother at all. This was a person who just needed a chance to read and write better.”
For more information about Read Santa Clara, visit http://santaclaraca.gov/government/departments/library and click on “Adult Literacy” on the right side of the page.