It is with both great sadness and gratitude for the blessing of knowing Pat Benner, and being mentored by her, that we share the news of her passing. Pat, a Reading Specialist at Evergreen College in San Jose, was an early supporter of California Library Literacy Service (CLLS) programs, and shared her expertise by providing tutor trainings in the Bay Area for new volunteers and in-service workshops for adult learners and tutors. Her workshops, on such topics as Comprehension, Vocabulary Development, and Writing were always well received by both learners and tutors (and staff!), who were also especially drawn to her breakthrough knack for teaching tips on spelling and phonics. When she retired from the college, Pat’s involvement and commitment in support of CLLS programs grew even stronger as she traveled to different parts of the state to provide workshops, including those at conferences, and she even Skyped to further assist in a rural areas.
With a heart for serving the most underserved, over the last 20 years, Pat has worked closely with Project READ Redwood City to provide tutor training in the men’s and women’s County correctional facilities located in Redwood City. Pat was instrumental in the development and delivery of training peer tutors in each of the facilities where she shared a mutual respect and high-regard with the inmates. What started out as a pilot project grew into a cornerstone of Redwood City Project READ services.
Pat was also a longtime volunteer tutor for multiple CLLS programs and the author of several instructional resources, including Pre-GED Critical Thinking materials and her Troubleshooter series. Pat’s support of adult & Family literacy and CLLS extended to her enthusiastic support and encouragement of staff. She served as an advisory board member for the Redwood City Friends of Literacy and was generous contributor, including opening her beautiful home in the Santa Cruz Mountains for literacy staff and board retreats. Bill Burns, Pat’s long-time Project READ colleague, wrote the following poem in 2006 when Pat was honored with Project READ’s prestigious Fueling the Fire of Hope Award.
For many years
you’ve given more
than most ever have:
you have awakened slumbering minds. . .
given wings to broken souls . . .
You’ve given all of us
the chance to see how someone plants
first, just the seeds. . .
then skillfully adds the nourishment to help each fill
Pat, you’ve given us yourself:
your mind, your heart, your brain, your all . . .
you’ve opened wide the door—
that’s really all there is in life. . . you can’t give anymore.
Thanks for all you’ve done and continue to do.
Project READ’s 29th Annual Trivia BEE, to be held in October, will be dedicated in honor of Pat. If you have memories of Pat, we hope you’ll share them. Her love, work and compassion will live on through our work and through those lives she touched.
Image Credit: "Painted with love, gratitude and admiration by Michael L., participant in the Choices Program."