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We Are a Better People When We Care for One Another

Terri Myers-Edwards serves her community by teaching young children to be better readers.

spinner image Terri Myers Story Photo

My parents loved to read. Our library in Elkhart, Indiana, had a program where each child received a tracking page to see how many books they could read, with prizes assigned later. I would take my younger brother and sister to get books, and we would go back the next week and get our stickers for the books we had read and a coupon for ice cream.

When we moved to California, I was two grades ahead, but then I became very ill. My home school teacher introduced me to the classics as well as poetry. I fell in love with: "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" by Wordsworth and other poets of that era. We explored Shakespeare's works and then I discovered Jane Austen, whom I read over and over.

Because of my illness and having to be homeschooled, when I finally went back to school, I felt out of place. My books and reading were a great comfort to me. Words and their origin became a quest for me.

My parents gave us a strong sense of service. I worked with underprivleged children most of my life. As a senior, I now work with a border ministry for children, serving their needs. When the pandemic hit, I was working with seniors as a volunteer through the church . Because my immune system is compromised and I was also caring for my husband, who has cancer, I needed to find another way to help those in need.

When I read about the Experience Corps reading program, the fact that I could do it from home — and it was a reading program! — made it a no brainer. I thought if I could bring that love of books and reading to any other children besides my grandchildren (who are all great readers), no matter their circumstance, then they could see themselves in a different light and that light would show them a way out and upward.

We are a better people when we care for one another, and our communities are better. That is how I grew up. I have lived a life of service, and my children are now serving in their communities. So if I can light a spark in one child for the love of books, it will make my heart sing.

Terri Myers-Edwards was the first African American court reporter in California’s Orange County Superior Court, where she worked for 25 years. She has been married 44 years and has six grandchildren.

About AARP Foundation Experience Corps

A community-based program, AARP Foundation Experience Corps pairs older adults with young students who are struggling to read at grade level and helps them become better readers.

Learn more about AARP Foundation Experience Corps and how to become a volunteer.

Read more stories about how our programs have helped people find hope, and about the volunteers who give so much of themselves to help others.

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Help Kids Become Great Readers

Helping someone learn to read is an amazing feeling. Experience Corps makes it easy to start giving back, with training and ongoing support when you’re in the classroom.