Pat Snyder grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to Florida as a 16-year-old. As a child, her grandmother wouldn’t allow her to attend school. A series of seizures proved to be too big of a concern at the time.

Now, over six decades later, Snyder is finally learning to read.

“I’m reading and I’m happy. I’m really happy for the first time,” she said.

With the help of retired school teacher, Linda Meckes, Snyder has been learning to read for the past year. A friend signed her up for a senior program at the PACE Center, part of Suncoast Hospice. After she showed up, she was asked what her goals might be for the upcoming year.

Learning to read was her top priority.

“Learning how to read has really improved her quality of life,” said PACE recreation therapist, Bethany Letourneau. “She loves her teacher, as she calls Linda.”

Letourneau helped pair Snyder with Meckes, who taught reading in school for 31 years in Pinellas County. The connection has helped expand Snyder’s horizons and helped her realize what she was missing all those years.

“Sometimes before we would do the pages with the sentences we would and start from the pictures,” said Meckes, holding an early-level reading handbook. “These were words, in the beginning, we had difficulty with.”

Snyder didn’t really want many people to know she couldn’t read.

“I bluffed a lot,” she admitted.

She’s work with Meckes twice per week for an hour each session. Gradually, she learned her consonants and vowels.

As a child, she didn’t know which bathroom door to enter because she couldn’t read the labeling. She didn’t go out to eat much since menus were indecipherable. She didn’t even enjoy grocery shopping because of all the labels.

Now, she’s tackling all of those problems with the help of her new reading skills.

“It’s so good if you can read, you know. It feels so good.”

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