How ‘Papa Joe’ helps Chesterfield children learn to read

Posted at 7:30 AM, Nov 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-11-29 07:30:54-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The office staff of Clover Hill Elementary School in Chesterfield has been greeted with the joyous voice of Papa Joe twice a week for the past nine years. He volunteers with the kindergarten and first grade classes to help those students become better readers.

"I thank God that I found this," Papa Joe said. "It was one of the best blessings that He has given me."

The military veteran learned about dedication in the United States Air Force. He earned the nickname "Papa Joe" 20 years ago as a missionary in Honduras. His heart was moved by an undernourished child he and a nurse fed in a village there.

"I said, 'What is she, Debbie, about eight or nine months old?' Debbie said, 'Oh no Joe.  She'll be three on her next birthday.'  That hit me like a fully loaded concrete truck,' Joe said.

Joe said his patron saint is Peter Pan.

He doesn't mind talking to the kids about what it's like to grow old.

"On one occasion I was reading a book.  The child looked at my arm and she said, 'Papa Joe.  You've got white fur on your arms (laughing).'"

The kids keep him active.  Helping makes him happy.

"I love it.  I would pay these people money to have this job," he said.

His dedication is building better minds.

Building Better Minds with Rob Cardwell airs Wednesday on CBS 6 This Morning.