Jeannine started work at 13. She was a waitress and then a nurses-aid at St. Josephs Hospital. She was married at 16.
A pastry chef in a restaurant was her next job, moving swiftly into running her own business called “Jean’s Home Baking”. She would work in the restaurant all week, then at weekends bake and sell her goods via local markets. This work schedule continued for over five years.
Jeannine then worked as a cook/food advisor for an old age home. During this time she became injured and discovered she could no longer remain in the job.
W.S.I.B requested a psycho-educational test. She was told she couldn?t read or write above a grade 3 level. Jeannine acknowledges knowing about this inability to read. She had managed to hide and compensate for it by asking questions and having to remember everything she was told.
Jeannine says the day the W.S.I.B “found her out”, was the scariest day but also the best day of her life. She was introduced to The North Bay Literacy Council and has never felt scared again. Jeannine started as a student in a small group, with like people, all learning to read. She was dedicated and learned quickly. Jeannine has now written many stories, including Which Corner Next? published by Laubach.
Jeannine has eight children, twelve grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She has worked all her life and still has time for other people. Jeannine is one of our ardent supporters of literacy at the council willing to help, talk or listen to anyone who wants to learn to read and write.
Jeannine’s latest goal is to write her autobiography. Publishers take note.
The Doors That Opened To Me – By: Jeannine V.
Please allow me to share my years of not knowing how to read or write. I had no problem fooling my co-workers or my employers. I sure tried to hide it well. I looked pretty intelligent. I had that face and smile which gave people the assumption that I was qualified for the job. I had developed a good memory from watching and listening which helped me acquire the skills needed for the work to be done. I could talk my way through anything.
To cover up, I would tell jokes and funny stories about life, and hope they wouldn’t ask too many questions about the job because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to answer them. They had no way of knowing that I was learning the job at the same time that they were listening to me fool around, but it worked for 38 years.
I worked in places like hospitals, restaurants and nursing homes. I even had my own “business” that I ran with a lot of instinct and sweat. I did it all and then boom! I got hurt. That was my big no-no. When Workmen’s Compensation sent me to get tested for a new job, I got “busted”. I knew I was unable to cover up anymore.
Getting busted was the best thing that life gave me: a chance to explore learning. I am now doing something that I wish I had done 40 years ago. I don’t have to tell jokes to fool people anymore. After ten months of schooling, the doors of my mind opened like the petals of a rose. With the writing and reading skills that I have acquired, I now stand on my own two feet. I am unafraid!
Spring has Arrived – By: Jeannine V.
When I looked out to see if the snow was ready to leave,
to her surprise it was snowing again.
I know that Miss Tulip is trying to make her entrance,
but it looks too much like winter.
Maybe she will wait another day.