Marykaren Harward of Provo is plenty busy with eight children adopted from foreign lands - including four who arrived from the Philippines in October. But she still spends three hours a week helping another woman learn to read English.
For that, President Bush named her Tuesday as his "daily point of light" in a program to honor volunteers.Bush names a point of light six days a week. That grew out of his speech at the Republican National Convention in 1988 - where he said volunteers who serve others are like a thousand points of light giving hope. Harward is now officially his point of light No. 371.
Harward told the Deseret News, "I teach a Japanese student to read and write in English (through Project Read) so she can attend BYU. She is a brilliant woman but needs help understanding the language so she can understand professors."
Harward gives two 1 1/2-hour reading lessons a week. She has done so for the past year and a half. "I am a mother, and she is a mother - so there's only a limited amount of what we can do."
And Harward is kept busy by her large family of eight adopted children from foreign lands. "One is from India, two are from Korea and five are from the Philippines. And four from the Philippines just arrived here on Oct. 12."
Harward said she was shocked to be honored by Bush. "I am honored but humbled because so many people do so much more than I do. I feel like I am being honored for other people, not just myself - for all the volunteers in Project Read in Utah County. I am honored to put service in the minds of others."
Harward said other volunteers in Project Read in Utah County have done such things as help grandparents learn to read for the first time so they can read to their grandchildren and help workers improve reading skills so they can move into supervisory positions. She said her boss in the program, Beth Robinson, deserves the credit.
Bush noted that Harward does more than teach how to read, saying she helps her student learn how to read maps, signs, food labels and job applications and also helps with job interviewing techniques.
The recognition program is designed to convey President Bush's conviction that, "From now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others."
Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, also issued a statement praising Harward. "She has demonstrated the true spirit of service and serves as an example to all of us that true compassion and dedication can help others improve their quality of life."