Success! Wine & Words 2022 w/ Kaira Rouda

By: Brittany Laurin-Boland

                We had another wonderful Wine & Words event this year, making eight successful years of fundraising to support Literacy Volunteers at HBPL. On January 22nd of this year, community members gathered for our first virtual Wine & Words to listen to accomplished writer Kaira Rouda answer questions about her incredible life and her latest book, “Somebody’s Home.” The auction that accompanied the night was filled with unique items donated by local businesses and volunteers, and of course, wine, plenty of wine.

                The night started with host Bob Madison, leading a charming repartee with Mrs. Kaira Rouda. She spoke candidly about her life and education that lead to a successful writing career. She also graced attendees by reading an excerpt from her latest suspense novel, “Somebody’s Home.”  Board Member, Kristen Bitgood, had this to say, “The host was extremely engaging and lead a dynamic interview that really helped me know Kaira Rhouda and get excited for her upcoming books.” We thank Kaira for spending the time to share with us her life’s work and to support the effort to spread adult literacy throughout Southern California.

                Throughout the week leading up to the Wine & Words night, people were invited to bid on items generously donated by the community. There were unique and entertaining prizes; A stay in Sedona, spa gift cards, Gulfstream Flight Simulator, wine, and more! We had many excited winners! We are grateful to each and every person who bid on items and donated to Literacy Volunteers – HBPL.

                This successful night, with donations coming in from both the auction and Mrs. Rouda’s interview, allows the staff at the Literacy office to continue to support the growth of literacy amongst adults within the Huntington Beach community and beyond. New materials for tutor training, citizenship classes, English books, and more, can now be purchased because of the generosity of the community, the donators, and Kaira Rouda. Thank you to all who support our mission.

                If you would like to learn more about Mrs. Kaira Rouda and her incredible body of work, visit her website If you are interested in purchasing her latest work, “Somebody’s Home” or any of her other thrilling books please visit And finally, if you would like to support adult literacy in your community please consider donating here.

                Thank you for a wonderful night and we hope to see you in person next year for our 2023 Wine & Words.

– Literacy Volunteers Staff

My First House Flip

By: Kim Doan

I recently took on a project I always wanted to do, but I did not know I’d be doing it during the time of Covid. In only 10 minutes, I decided to purchase a house, remodel, and flip it. 

I started to work on the house the day I signed the papers. In a very short time, I set up the demo crew to work inside changing the floor plan and cleaning up the garden. I was so excited! I became the general contractor, I had to hire people to do different jobs like plumbing, electrical, tile, woodwork, walls, paint, windows, doors, and glass. I got some contractors’ phone numbers from my sister. I had to learn a lot of new terms and city building codes.

Of course I worked there myself every single day from 7:30am to 8 or 10pm on the roll for over three months, and I did as much of the work as I could myself. Covid made everything much harder, because prices increased, shipping was delayed, items were out of stock, and everyone had to wear masks.

I custom-designed all the bathrooms, the kitchen, and two fireplaces. I had the trees removed from the front of my house and made new landscape, and my sister and I staged it ourselves.

 Finally, after a lot of hard work, and a lot of expense, the house was ready to put on the market, and it was a big relief after all my long days of tough work. I was very proud of it!

I had two offers in two days, both over asking price and the sale closed within a month. Even though it was laborious and dirty work, I loved it! I’ll do it again when I have a chance. 

Martha Valencia’s Memories

By Martha

I was born in a small town named La Calera, Jalisco, México, and my most beautiful memories of my childhood are in that small town. I grew up with my parents and my 5 siblings, and we lived in a small house with a room and a kitchen. That means we all slept in the same room. I can’t forget the kitchen, because my mother prepared delicious food there; delicious handmade tortillas on the fire. We had no electricity, we used petroleum lamps, and we didn’t have TV.

Our hobbies were playing hide, jump the rope and things like that. We walked to school, and all the cousins and their parents lived in the same town. We all knew each other and we all went to the same church.

I remember the schoolyard because there was the flag and also I saw the
typical dances for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Many images, smells, and
flavors are in my mind and my heart.

The Day of the Dead in My Pueblo

By Guadalupe Torres

My pueblo is very small but has a very long name, San Diego, la Mesa, Tochimiltcingo, and we celebrate dia de muertos. The day begins on October 28th, and an offering is made to those who were murdered. The offering consist of: a glass of water, fruit, bread, chocolate, mole, candles and flowers that are placed on a table. On the first of November, an offering is made to the children, they are given bread that is made at home and is in the shape of a child, water, sweets, candles and white flowers. November 2nd is All Saints’ Day. Bread is made with the name of the deceased and it is put in the offering along with chocolate, water, mole, bean tamales, fruit, candles and marigold flowers. Photos of the deceased are also posted, and flowers are brought to the pantheon (or cemetery) and graves are adorned.

The Mexican Flag

By Claudia Soriano

The Mexican Flag is very important to the country of Mexico and
has an interesting history. It was designed by Agustin de Iturbide. It was
made in the city of Iguala Guerrero, by the tailor José Magdaleno
Ocampo. 1821 was the first year that Mexico was recognized as a
sovereign country, and that was the year that the flag was designed. It
consists of three colors and the shield in the center that represents a
golden eagle, a snake, a cactus as well as olive branches. What are the
colors of the Mexican flag? The green means hope for the people, the
color white defines unity, the color red stands for the people who died
during the war for Mexican independence. The national shield of the
Mexican flag consists of an eagle perched on a cactus and a snake in the
claws of the eagle and has been modified throughout history.

Inspired by reading!

Hoang Luu and her tutor, Diane Bentley, read the inspiring stories of 100 immigrant women in the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, by Elena Favilli. Hoang was inspired to write the report below about one of the rebel girls, Velma Scantlebury. We both recommend Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls to other learners. 

There are three things I learned about Dr. Velma Scantlebury.

By Hoang

First, Velma was born on October 6, 1955 in Barbados.When she was a child, she loved to go to the beach with her dad. She knew that she wanted to take care of people and her dream was to be a doctor. Velma and her family moved to the United States when she was fifteen . It was a hardest time for her at her new school in Brooklyn, New York. She got bully from the other students about her hair, accent, clothes and the darkness of her skin. Even though a counselor in school didn’t believe in her and suggested that she should get a job instead of college. 

Second, Velma graduated in 1977 with her BS in biology, she was accepted at both Yale School of Medicine and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. She was geared towards medicine because she loved the idea of being able to do things the way she wants. She was very stubborn and determined but that seemed to fit well with her goal. As first, she wanted to be a pediatric surgeon , she needed to do research, she fascinated by the body functions and turn out to be in transplant surgery.

Velma performed over 2000 transplants and published many peer-reviewed papers in order to share her knowledge with others. She also worked hard to address inequality in the medical field and encouraged girls to become surgeons which seems very hard. Velma had been doing in transplant surgery for 32 years.She retired in October 2020. Now she is doing consulting and teaching and she is a professor of surgery. But she was the first African-American woman transplant surgeon of the United States. 

Velma was bullied by the other students because of her race but she managed to overcome her difficulties. Learning English seems very difficult to me but I will continuous to go back school studying and fit in America one day.

Unexpected! Learning to Read.

By Ernesto     

      I learned to read an unbelievable book that I was able to share with my children. The title of the book was A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. It is about how a young boy and a young girl overcome their own obstacles when their country of Sudan is in a war. The suspense in the writing was really clear to help me understand the story.  I wanted to keep reading after each chapter. 

The separate stories and the characters always kept me thinking about how my life in some small ways relates to their experiences.  I never stop to think about how people in other countries live and these characters helped me to think about what is happening in other countries.  This is the first book that I have really read and understood.  I shared it with my kids and we talked about the book and it made me feel good about myself. The things that I learned I am trying to pass it on to my boy as it opened my mind about how to enjoy a book. I never thought reading would be enjoyable.

Huntington Beach Literacy Learners

Despite a challenging year, our learners have continued to make great strides towards their language goals. With the help of the tutors, our learners have improved with reading comprehension, pronunciation, and writing skills.

Learning and improving language skills is a journey. It is important to recognize and celebrate the small successes along the way.

Some recent successes reported to us include:

  • Eunjin worked with her tutor to write the perfect resume. That resulted in an interview and a job offer. Congratulations Eunjin!
  • Ernesto is reading more fluently, which is leading to him being more confident.
  • Patricia wrote an online memoir to honor a friend
  • Hyekyung recently spoke English at her son’s school for the first time.

We are so proud of all of our learners who have risen to the challenge of distance learning, working with their tutors online, via the telephone and sometimes even by text! 

We are looking forward to welcoming our tutors and learners back to the library, and also sharing more success stories as our learners continue on their journey.