J. R. Martinez

J. R. Martinez: "at the end of the day we never stop learning"

"At the end of the day we never stop learning"

I remember being in school and having to do research and, you know, having to study something, to write some kind of essay or report on it, and I would actually go to the library and it was just amazing to me how everything was alphabetically put. It, you know, is so cool, I think that's one of the reasons why I'm so organized, because I'd enjoyed and loved the idea of all the books being organized based on alphabetically.

And so, I just remember going to library, into the back, you know, and reading a book and learning a lot about something that I never knew about and being able really tell that story to, whether it was my teacher or to the other fifteen students that were in the class.

So I never was a big reader growing up, but after my injury, I started to really kind of understand the importance of reading and the different types of books to read and what you can really take away from every single book.

I think libraries are as just an amazing place, an amazing facility, because it gives anybody, whether it's a child, whether it's an adult, the opportunity to go and find whatever it is that they want to find, and to be able to educate themselves on it, because at the end of the day, we never stop learning.

You know, just because we're out of school, we never stop learning, and I think books and libraries give you that opportunity to continue to learn.

When I was in high school, there was a lady that was a librarian and she was just so sweet and so nice and so fun it made going to the library.  She made it inviting. We would say "We're going to the library!" And we would walk into the library and she'd be like, "Hey guys!" She just made it really fun and she had an amazing personality which allowed, when we were kids, to say, "Oh it's cool to go to the library. It's fun."

I plan to really helping my daughter get involved in reading early on and taking her to the library and teaching her how to find what it is that she needs to find. My girlfriend and I, you know she is a big reader as well, and her mother read to her always when she was a child, so she even understands the importance of it, as well, so it's gonna come from both ends, you know, to say, "Hey we're taking you to the library to get your favorite book."

I think it would be kind of cool to make it a ritual where it's like once a month, when she's at a certain age, to say, "We're going to go to the library, let you pick one book out that you want to read and you read it throughout the month." You know, maybe something cool like that, but we would definitely want to involve libraries into our daughter's life.

[On budget cuts] I think it's unfortunate about library budget cuts, I mean, you know, as I said, I think that there's a vast need for them. I think that they... it needs to be promoted, the importance of what a library provides and what it can do for a lot of people out there. I think that now, with the way the world is, everything is so... you can get access to everything on the Internet or you know, actually more, mainly the Internet, that the people have a tendency to say, "Why go to an actual place, you know, why do I have to get in my car, why walk there? You know, I can actually just do it on my computer."

I think times have changed, but I think it's still unfortunate, because there's that old school feeling of being able to go and actually still put your fingers on a page of a book, to actually touch a book, to actually get the book, to actually sign it out,to turn it back in and I just think that, you know, libraries are important.

One thing I remember about going to libraries, that it wasn't just about me being hispanic, it was just me and another hispanic kid, it would be me and my friend who was caucasian, it would be another friend that's from another country, a foreign country... so there was like all of us and, you know, I think the cool thing about, you know, even though sometimes you speak different languages, that the message is still the same in the same book, you know, it maybe a different language, it may be different way to pronounce it, but hopefully the message is still the same. And so I think that's a cool thing about libraries is that it doesn't matter who you are, it doesn't matter what your age is, it doesn't matter where you from, it doesn't matter how you speak, it doesn't matter if you don't speak, it doesn't matter if you can't hear, or whatever it may be, you know, you can always go to the library and at the end of the day, it's a book, and you're reading the same thing someone else is reading.

Well, you know, recently, two months ago, I became a father for the first time to a beautiful baby girl and you know, it's just truly been amazing to see her grow in the two months that she's been with us, how much has changed, how much she's more alert and smiling a little bit more now, which is great.

You know, it's a beautiful thing, to be able to have the opportunity to know that you can encourage their lives and you can help pass down the things that you've learned in your life, good or bad, pass them down her and hopefully it will help her life be a little bit easier than maybe what your life was.

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Book Title: 

Full of Heart: My story of Survival, Strength, and Spirit