“Grit, Grace, and Gratitude”: The story of Regina Lynn

Grit, Grace, and Gratitude: A 30-Year Journey” shares how one woman’s desire to teach adults to read turned into a nationwide movement to lift families out of poverty. Published in November 2019, the book shares the formation and evolution of the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL).

Throughout this month, NCFL has shared excerpts from “Grit, Grace, and Gratitude.” This third and final passage recounts the story of Regina Osteen Lynn. Raised in a dysfunctional household that shattered the lives of her three brothers, Regina instead found family literacy. What followed was a future much different from her past.

For Regina, family literacy was the beginning of hope.

With one brother dead, one in prison, and one dealing with mental illness and addiction, hope was not an easy thing to come by. In Regina’s own words, “my brothers and I navigated through an environment of undiagnosed mental illness, poverty, despair, and abuse.” For her, family literacy became the difference. There, she gained access, coping skills, another perspective, and yes, hope.

There were people along the way who helped. An incredible teacher named Mildred Puryear Shelton—who also had dropped out of school and later in life earned a GED® and her teaching credentials—would not let her quit. A woman from Kentucky named Sharon Darling who gave her inspiration. A poet who visited her classroom and helped her see it was okay to be different. And her four young children—especially her youngest son, R.L., her partner in the family literacy program—the source of her motivation.

“…the lesson that Mildred taught me is the difference between a reason and an excuse. I had always lived by excuses. So, once you tear it all down and get to the basics, they are mostly all excuses. Because if you can get in the door of a family literacy program, you’ve got all the support in the world and you can climb to the next level.” (Regina Osteen Lynn)

Regina Lynn went on to earn her Bachelor of Social Work from Mars Hill College. She worked in the social work field for several years, in AmeriCorps service, and as a parent educator and parent services coordinator. In 1992, President George H.W. Bush presented her with a National Literacy Honors’ Award at the White House in Washington, DC. Today, Regina’s four children have all developed successful careers.

To order your printed copy of “Grit, Grace, and Gratitude: A 30-Year Journey”, click here. To purchase the ebook edition, click here.