Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford (LVGH) has provided literacy services to adult learners in Hartford, Connecticut, since 1972. Every year, this generous nonprofit organization helps 850 adults gain the reading, writing, English proficiency, math, high school completion, citizenship, and job readiness skills they need to succeed in life. One of these successful and inspiring learners is Myesha Simpson, and this is her story.
Myesha Simpson’s Gala Speech
I never enjoyed going to school. I was always told I was “dumb” by my teachers, parents, family members, and friends. I had no confidence in myself. My mother was not around a lot and I had no one to turn to when I needed help with my homework. So, if I did not understand it, I would just not do it. I knew I was falling behind with my reading and writing but I was too busy helping my mom raise my little brother to do anything about it.
Myesha begins at LVGH
At 15, I found myself pregnant. My mother passed away seven months into my pregnancy and I was completely lost. I did not know what to do. I was scared, broke, and a high school dropout with nowhere to live. I found myself getting mixed up with the wrong people that led me to making a lot of the bad decisions. My decisions landed me in incarceration at 17. While I was in jail, I went to school and earned my GED by guessing the answers. I was unable to read or understand any of the questions, so you could say luck was on my side.
When I was released, I wanted more from life, but I was so scared to admit that I did not know how to read. I was ashamed to ask for help. I thought anyone I asked would think I was dumb. After many years of working dead-end jobs, four or five at a time, I said “enough is enough.” I wanted to show my children that I could do better and prove to myself that all those people who thought I was “dumb” were wrong. My aunt looked online, found LVGH, and gave me the number. Every day she would ask, “Did you call?” After two weeks straight of asking me, I finally called and made an appointment at LVGH.
From the first day I walked into LVGH, it was a new life for me and a second chance at learning. The day I walked into LVGH, I met Miriam. She was so warm and welcoming. Then she brought me to Ms. Rose who made me feel like I could achieve anything, as long as I had the drive to do it. She was that motivation I was looking for my whole life. I left that meeting crying. I had felt like a weight that I had been carrying since I was 15 had been lifted of me. I was excited to start classes.
I had classes Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I loved my classes and I felt good knowing I was learning new things. I was introduced to Leo when I told Rose I wanted to find a better job. I started meeting with Leo weekly to build my resume and search for jobs. One day, Leo came up to me and asked me if I wanted to be part of the new ServSafe Food Training Program, and I said “Yes.” On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I went to the training program in LVGH’s East Hartford Center to learn, read, and cook. I met an amazing woman named Mrs. Sherry, who was the chef. I felt so welcomed whenever I was there.
Myesha completes ServSafe certification
After I finished the training, Leo asked me if I was ready to take the certification test. He told me if I passed the test it would help me get a job in food service. With hard work studying and good luck, I passed it. When I found out I passed the test, I felt my heart radiate strength and I started to believe in myself again. After I finished the training and passed the test, I still would go help out in the kitchen because I loved it so much. All the people were like family to me and I loved going there to help out.
One day Mrs. Sherry introduced me to her boss. Mrs. Sherry described me as her “little firecracker.” She told her boss that I was a leader and one of the stars of the program. She encouraged me to apply for a job with Sodexo. At first I was nervous because of my history but Mrs. Sherry encouraged me to apply and said she had a good feeling about it. Mrs. Sherry and her boss gave me an opportunity that no one ever did before. I now work at Anna Morris School in East Hartford. I love it there, and a year later my story is still growing.
Myesha at the LVGH gala
I want to give Literacy Volunteers of Greater Hartford a huge thanks, as you are my new family. I felt cared for the first day there and people like that are hard to come by. You are the reason so many adults are able to go back to school and achieve their dreams. LVGH changes lives. If I had never made that phone call, I don’t know where I would be today. I thank God every day that I found LVGH and am so happy I can call this place home.
Learn more about LVGH by visiting LVGH.org or by contacting the program at (860) 223-3853.