I did a Google search to find a local organization where I might be able to volunteer. The third listing was Bosma Enterprises, which unbelievably was an organization who provided services for people who are blind. I called them immediately even though I had great reservations about what value I could bring or if they would even want to have a volunteer who was legally blind. They were willing to give me a chance. I started volunteering several times a week in their Rehab Center helping other newly-blinded people learn the skills to live their life over without vision. Surrounded by successful people who were blind and teaching people who had just lost their vision helped me start to feel more confident and inspired.
After just a few months, I was asked if I wanted to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA, building Bosma Enterprises’ volunteer program. Over the year I served, I grew the volunteer program while educating other not-for-profits about the value of including people who have disabilities in service. I was also able to start a volunteer program where Bosma’s employees, 50 percent who are blind or visually impaired, serve other non-profits similar to a day of service at a for profit company. The program allowed many people who had traditionally received services, the opportunity to serve others. At the end of my year of service, my work was acknowledged and I was named Indiana’s 2008 VISTA of the Year. And, I was offered employment at the company that hosted me as their volunteer coordinator. Both were opportunities that I never thought I would have again after I lost my vision.
Since then, I have continued to work at Bosma Enterprises in several capacities, and in 2014, I earned my MBA. I was recently named the company’s marketing director and became a member of its Executive Leadership Team. I’ve worked really hard to get where I am today, but I know it would not have been possible without Indiana’s Corporation for National and Community Services disability inclusion initiative and Bosma Enterprises who gave me a chance. You see, a person who has an opportunity has a future, while someone without prospects only has the past. I look forward to every day at Bosma Enterprises. I continue to be excited that I was given a second chance. The best is yet to come for me and other people who have disabilities.