- Phyllis Mizuhara memories
I was very fond of her; she was part of a group of five women who read at 9:00 at Chavez’s library, and all were delightful, but since Floyd and I saw her often at Fat Apple’s we got to know her a bit more deeply, especially after we knew Phyllis’ daughter Patricia Gangwer.
Phyllis had a spark about her and she was always upbeat and full of energy. I was impressed with that energy and was surprised to hear her grasp of earlier local history and her wide interests in books and history in general. I know she loved travel and people, and in our group of Read-Aloud friends she was in the habit of giving us little personally made gifts on occasion. Phyllis was always smiling and truly enjoyed reading with the students and she and her group decided they’d stay on an extra year when I let them know I was retiring in the next school year—what great support! We lost one reader in the group to Cancer, and it was while they’d been across the bay on an outing together that this woman became very ill and was picked up by an ambulance. Phyllis, with the others in the car, starting following the ambulance so closely and at nearly the same speed that the driver finally pulled over, got out and ran to her car, telling her to STOP following, and giving her the route she should take. After retiring, I was invited to join the group at a monthly breakfast at Fat Apple’s, and that was a real treat. Every month each of these women had one or more books to pass around among all of us; a great circulating library. I found they’d dubbed themselves “The Really Loud Ladies” as a riff on the Read-Aloud Ladies, which I’d called them—not true but there was always lots of laughter at our table, and the staff all knew and visited with them.
I won’t really say Phyllis was my favorite, as each of them became a dear friend and being with them always improved my spirits, taught me about ageing with grace and wit. The remaining three women of this group, Floyd and I sat together at Phyllis’ memorial. Three other people sat at our table and each one of us shared different stories about Phyllis, which showed how diverse were her interests and how talented and generous she was. She made the most beautiful and artistic quilts for family and friends—all in lovely combinations and all joyful. She’d made specific historical quilts while her family was interned during WWII, she’d worked for the DMV, took classes in movement similar to Chi Gong, and she and her husband created a happy, welcoming home where family and friends could drop in and visit plus be invited to stay for the next meal.
The crowd of around 200 from all parts of her life, plus a large land loving family, including a friend from her elementary days who flew over from Japan made it obvious that Phyllis was dearly loved.
–Judy Sam, Chavez Coordinator and Emeritus Executive Director, Read-Aloud Volunteer Program
- Julie Haseldon
I began volunteering as a reader for the Read-Aloud Volunteer Program shortly after retiring from a career in maintenance and construction. Reading aloud with children has been a pleasure every year. I consider this program a win-win for the children and the readers. The children clearly benefit from the positive relationships with the readers as they develop their love for reading and books. Readers enjoy benefits beyond just sharing their time with children and helping to nurture reading skills. We also enjoy the books that we read! Learning about our world, the joy of a good story and sharing a laugh are just a few of the delights readers enjoy. I have invited friends to join Read-Aloud and several have become readers. I am grateful to be a part of this valuable program.
- Lucinda Winter
When I retired from teaching in the WCCUSD, it seemed like a natural volunteer opportunity for me to join Read-Aloud. At Dover elementary, the entire group of Wednesday volunteers is so devoted to bringing the joy of reading into young lives.
- Wilma Tramble
- Florence Brown
- Patricia Gangwer
The best part of the Read Aloud Volunteer Program for me is the special time it creates for the reader and listener to share together, enjoying books and reading, awakening imaginations, and exploring literature.
- Bill Reuter
Marilyn Nye, the program’s creator, recruited me, saying: “It’s a great chance to do good work in the world after you retire.” She was right, but she didn’t tell me how much fun it would be.
I enjoy the students. They are the best of company.
And I’ll never forget Nancy, one of my past students. Her teacher, just getting to know her at the beginning of the school year, described her to me as someone shy, needing to be drawn out, and not sure of herself academically. One day, reading to her from a book about a frog family that visited a “fancy” restaurant, Nancy said to me: “Look, Mr Reuter. If you take the “f” off of “fancy” and put an “n” there, it spells my name.” Some shyness, some academic uncertainty!
Nancy is one of the smartest people I’ve spent time with, letter perfect in both Spanish and English, and now a real book lover.
Good work in the world indeed, and what fun. Come join in it!