Project Read Spotlight: the Robert Zenga Story

South San Francisco, CA   December 23, 2013 
Submitted by Project Read Fernando Cordova Literacy Services Coordinator

The Robert Zenga Story

Project Read has been helping adults with marginal reading and writing abilities for close to thirty years. Headquartered in the basement of the South San Francisco Main Library, a staff of three dedicated South San Francisco library employees, welcome new learners from all walks of life to begin the process of self-education toward greater independence through better literacy skills… and at no cost to them.


Robert Zenga had lived in the Los Angeles area for a number of years. After relocating to the Bay Area in late 2011, he was encouraged to come to Project Read by a relative to improve his reading and writing for greater employment marketability. Robert felt that if could improve his literacy skills, he would able to fill out job applications, do better during interviews and secure a job locally.


Robert was promptly assessed by Project Read-North San Mateo County staff and matched with a tutor, Nicholas Fesunoff, a retired teacher and life-long educator. Robert worked hard and consistently on his literacy abilities, particularly his writing. He quickly progressed academically. This gave him the confidence he needed to find, apply for and obtain a full-time job at a local golf course. Since then, he has moved into his own apartment that he shares with another Project Read learner.  To make the transition complete, he has also switched his allegiance from being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan to a full-time San Francisco Giants booster!


Now, with assistance from his tutor, Robert continues to progress. He is concentrating on writing a script for a play about a distant relative who became a Filipino resistance fighter during the Japanese occupation of World War II. He has learned how to write creatively yet concisely, using metaphors and many of the important elements essential to good stylized writing. Most importantly, Robert feels more confidence and independent to pursue any new goals that he sets for himself.


“Project Read has given me a chance to work on my skills to find a job so that I can go on with my life and I am thankful to my tutor, Nicholas, for all of his help in improving my writing,” Robert reflects.


Project Read provides free training four times annually  for new volunteers who wish to assist in this worthy literacy endeavor.  No experience is necessary, but a college education is usually a guarantee that new tutors have the ability to read and write well enough to assist others to achieve their literacy goals. The next training is set for late January 2014 at the library. If you are interested in pursuing this rewarding volunteer experience, please call the Project Read office at 650-829-3871 and speak directly to any staff member who can provide information on the next steps to take.


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