It’s never too late to learn.”
Alferd Williams was born in 1937 in Eudora, Arkansas, one of nine children in his family. When he was a boy, his parents, who worked as sharecroppers, could not afford for both Alferd and his twin brother to be gone all day to school. In order for both boys to get some education, Alferd’s mother devised a plan to alternate days where one twin would go to school while the other stayed home to help on the farm. However, Alferd’s twin would often rise early and sneak away to school, leaving Alferd to work long days on the farm throughout his school years. As a result, Alferd never learned to read.
Many decades later, Alferd, then a resident of Saint Joseph, Missouri, began to help a single mother by walking her three children to and from school. The 68-year-old Alferd acted as a parent to the children and helped care for them every afternoon. What he could not help them with, however, was their homework.
When Alesia Hamilton, the first-grade teacher of one of the children, discovered that Alferd could not read the notes she had been sending home with the children, she began to teach him how to read. In the fall of 2006, Alferd enrolled as a first-grade student.
After completing the first grade, Alferd chose to stay in Alesia’s class and continue to learn with the new first-graders. Alesia encouraged Alferd’s passion for reading and, eventually, for teaching children to read. In fact, parents said their children would come home excited, with stories about how Alferd had helped them learn to read.
Alferd is still in Alesia’s class, where he plans to stay until he completes his GED. Literacy has changed his life and opened a world of opportunities. His story shows us that it is never too late to begin.
Literacy. Pass It On!
This billboard about literacy features Alferd Williams.
Watch Alferd Williams and Alesia Hamilton tell their story about how Alferd learned how to read at age 70.
wow im proud of him
hayley 30 days ago from washington
I want to teach an adult how to read, as a volunteer. Where can I go to find a chance to do this?
Sally Fisher about 1 month ago from New York City
Love this story. SO inspiring! Saw the billboard last week and had to learn more about Alferd's story.
Thanks for sharing, and thanks to The Foundation for a Better Life being a big part of making me a person, husband, and father to be!
God bless you!
Joe Dapper about 1 month ago from Barre, MA
good Job man
riley clayton robinson about 1 month ago from Walnut, Ms
Riley Robinson about 1 month ago from Walnut School
From a grammatical standpoint, the billboard should read something like: "He couldn't read this book, until age 70." The phrase 'Until 70.' is not a complete sentence.
John about 1 month ago from Indianapolis
What a wonderful story! As a teacher, I know how Ms. Hamilton must feel being able to teach a wonderful person like Alferd, and I hope to have dedicated students like him in my classroom. Simply wonderful!
Brittany 2 months ago from Lexington, KY
I thought that this story was very touching. It is amazing that you tried so hard and then succeeded in what you wanted!
Courtnee 4 months ago from Oregon
mona moussa 4 months ago from egypt
i showed this video to a 50 year old African American who did not read, he was so inspired that he actually signed up for an adult literacy program, Thank Values for putting Alfred on the site, it has changed this mans life, he has hopes and dreams and stated this can open up so many doors for him
Thomas 4 months ago from Fridley MN
Alferd WIlliams is such an inspiring person. He tells us never to give up, no matter how old you are. He's told us that people love you even when you're not the same. Thank you, Alferd. You're inspiring us all.
Holly 5 months ago from Hopkins, MN
ALfred is a great example of not only never to late to learn but how he ego and never a problem. sitting among first graders inspired the little ones and gvae Alfred a purpose to continue and learn. He is defnitiely a great man. May God Bless ALicia for recognizing how sharing life with others and helping each other is the essence of life.
Mona Moussa 6 months ago from Egypt
If you ever want the feeling that you are doing something irrepressibly wonderful, become a tutor ... even for a short time. I've never done anything that was so immediately rewarding and inspiring ... and I always felt that I got more out of the experience than what I was able to give, but I understand that this isn't unusual. Like nothing else, everyone is able to “Pass it on”
Kate 7 months ago from San Diego
"I'm the man that didn't give up. Don't quit." I love that! What a wonderful way to desire to be remembered!
Jan 8 months ago from South Dakota
This is absolutely beautiful! I wish there was an embed code so that I could place it on my blog. Learning is the most satisfying thing, no matter what age.
Rachael 8 months ago from Maryland
Hi Mr. Alferd,
Thank you for telling your story and being a good example. I have learned from you that I must work every day. After time passes, I could become smarter and smarter, if I keep learning, focusing and trying.
Love, Matthew Brown, age 8
Matthew Qunicy Brown 8 months ago from Brooklyn, NY, USA
WOW - There Is No Time Line To Learning As Said Learning Is A Gift
norman 9 months ago from india
I think your right! But why did you learn at 70?
Jennifer 9 months ago from Nora
What an inspiration, kudos to Ms. Hamilton and Alfred...........Wow what a story love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Barbara 9 months ago from Kentucky
What inspiration! Thank you both for sharing your story.
Janice 9 months ago from Philadelphia
what a lovely story I like when he says what you start finish and that was my imspiration I started college had kids and didn't finish but now thier grown time to finish. Thank You Alfred and teacher Hamilton
Sheran 10 months ago from New York
Beautiful. Simply beautiful. No barriers-just human caring and interaction. What an example both of these people are!
Norma 10 months ago from Lakewood, CA
Very inspirational. He is definitely affecting the children and all adults in a positive way. He truly never gave up!
Reuben 10 months ago from British Columbia, Canada
Truly inspiring - the teacher, the student and the circle of giving they create. Bravo.
Beth 10 months ago from Massachusetts
LIsa 10 months ago from Minnesota
What precious people.
Wendy 10 months ago from Orange County, California
Now if I could just get my father to follow this mans lead.... what a wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.
Angela 10 months ago from Saint paul mn
What a gift, to give and to receive, heartwarming!!!
Deborah 10 months ago from Greenville, SC
Oh my goodness, I could hardly fight back the tears! This story was such a great source of inspiration on so many levels. I was touched by the fact that Alfred Williams (an elderly man) was willing to acknowledge he couldn’t read (admitting inabilities/disabilities isn’t easy). I can only image how humbling it must have been for Alfred to tell Mrs. Hamilton he couldn’t read, and to be willing to accept help offered him from a much younger woman. As for Mrs. Hamilton a loving and selfless teacher, what an amazing example she sets for those who serve in some capacity as teacher. We should all seek to look for the potential and the innate abilities that lie deep within everyone regardless of one’s color, race, age or gender. Thanks for the sharing this inspiring story…I will seek to honor the good feelings I received as I watched this video by striving to be a teacher like this one. I will also work harder at believing in myself and my ability to overcome my own difficulties in reading. I will most certainly pass this video on to others, as I know that many can be truly inspired by this story. Thanks again for printing it. Juli F. It is true “within everyone lie the endless possibilities for greatness” Og Mandino.
Juli Finch 10 months ago from Ramona, Ca.
Literacy is just that beautiful, and Alfred's story is one that every Teacher looks for to remember..........
Deb Boulley 10 months ago from Bayfield,WI
Alferd's story is so amazing and beautiful! I am an AmeriCorps Minnesota Reading Corps tutor of K-3rd grade students that are reading just below their grade level and need a boost to reach their target goal. Alferd is an inspiration with his attitude, skills,enthusiasm, and dedication. Congratulations Alferd on learning to read and what a wonderful teacher Ms. Hamilton has been for you. What a blessing you are for each other.
Marilyn 10 months ago from Minnesota
A great man and a great teacher too. After reading this history everybody should take this man as an example. Is never to late to learn new things. Many thanks for share it this man is a truly hero for me.
Belen 10 months ago from Spain
Beautiful story. Thank you!
Debra 10 months ago from Niagara Falls
I love Alferd. I love Aleisa. What an inspirational team. Pass it on!
Jackie 10 months ago from Tarzana, CA
Oh great! I am proud to be a teacher, very nice Story. Congrat Alesia we are proud of you.
Cecilia 10 months ago from Syracuse,NY
great stuff here; way to go, Alferd and Alesia. We are all blessed just to see this video
Bob 10 months ago from Topeka
I have received 'Quote of the Day' for a few years now and they are so inspiring! I have passed them on to dozens. Keep up the good work, we all need to be lifted up in today's uncertainty.
John 10 months ago from Atlanta
It's never to late to learn, to give, and to share. Amen
Lynise Tarring 10 months ago from Hilo, HI
Thank you Alfred and Alesia for this inspiring story. You both are blessed beyond measure for helping others!
Monique 10 months ago from Nacogdoches, Texas
This is a special message! I just submitted my retirement forms after 31 years as a classroom teacher! You are so right! It's never too late to learn!
Charlene 10 months ago from Virginia
pakprink 10 months ago from Thailand
So glad, I decided to search the internet to find this site. I've been looking forward to reading his story. I told my mom 'hey did you see that billboard about the man who couldn't read until he was 70' I asked her while we passed it. I wanted to cry after reading this. That woman who helped him, is an incredible woman.
Rai Shauna 11 months ago from Columbus, Ohio
Great story! Thank you ..I am really happy that I ve found this website!
Nayoung Maum 12 months ago from Manila, Philippines
This story is amazing!
turkey 12 months ago from somewhere
Wow! To think that you can learn to read at age 70.
smiles 12 months ago from english class
Awesome story, it is so touching but it is true "It is never to late to learn."
Molly 12 months ago from CT
Wow that is very inspirational to me because I had trouble reading and knowing he couldn't read until he was 70 makes me feel like I am not alone.
dj 12 months ago from south windsor
That is so true. It is never to late to learn...
a.m. 12 months ago from connecticut
someone on the web 12 months ago from somewhere on earth
This inspired me a lot, and after reading this I have gotten to a better reading level!
DR about 1 year ago from Rogers
I am uplifted, encouraged and inspired by this story. Bless both teacher and student!
Mya about 1 year ago from Arcadia, CA
yushii about 1 year ago from connecticut
This is amazing!
all smiles about 1 year ago from ct
These post are a wonderful pick me up when you start to get down about the state of the world. Congratulations Alfred; it took a lot of courage for you to attend Mrs. hamiliton's class. I hope you enjoy the benefits of all you have learned, and hope that your story inspires others to follow in your steps!
Nick about 1 year ago from Baltimore
How admirable, you inspire me to try harder in middle age at the things I find difficult thank you for that!
Aileen about 1 year ago from Ireland
Never give up! All things are possible!
M.G.Martin jr about 1 year ago from baltimore Md
This man is truly amazing. At that point,I probably would have thought,"What's the use?" But he kept on trying."It's never too late to learn." I will try to always remember that. This one story has already changed my way of thought. :)
Niki Q about 1 year ago from MI,USA
This is a really heart warming story. I have nothing but respect for Alferd for his dedication and passion to better himself. His teacher puts my heart at ease knowing that there are still people out there who will take it upon themselves to help someone in need like that. Props to them both.
Matthew about 1 year ago from Lexington, KY
WOW!!!! so interesting.
meliyah over 1 year ago from yuma arizona
Thanks!!!! One smile brings more smiles!!
Gisela over 1 year ago from Florida
I know this man and the struggles he went through to accomplish this challenge. He is a wonderful man and he has an awesome teacher! Alesia Hamilton is a wonderful teacher and has a heart of gold to take on this challenge too! What an amazing story about these people. Makes me proud to know them personally! Keep on reading Alferd!
Jan over 1 year ago from Saint Joseph, mo