Caleb Duerr comes from a family who knows the realities of vision loss. Caleb, his twin brother, and his mom all suffer from retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic condition that causes gradual vision loss. His mom and her good friend went through training at Bosma, so Caleb has heard stories about them since he can remember.
Although he is still sighted, his vision has been declining recently. At 21, Caleb had to make some life decisions. He knew he wanted a job that would likely require typing and computer skills. He also knew that mobility was starting to become an issue.
But Caleb was also going through a rough time personally. Unlike his twin brother, he didn’t have a lot of friends. “I was going through an identity crisis. I felt like there was something wrong with me...I just wasn’t clicking,” he explained.
Then Caleb entered the Bosma Rehab Program, expecting to learn the skills he needed to get a job and be more independent. But Caleb found much more. “The people at Bosma - clients and instructors - were so supportive and pointed out my strengths, not my shortfalls. They showed me that I could get along with people,” said Caleb.
“Our group sessions were incredible! We respected one another, gave feedback, and opened up about depression, anxiety and fear. We listened to each other and tried to see things from the other person’s perspective.
“The instructors gave us real-world training like how to get through a job interview. They taught us that white canes not only help us navigate safely but also allow us to live independently.
“During the four-month program, I stayed at Towne Place by Marriott. It was my first experience away from home. It was frightening but also gave me time to get to know myself. I liked talking to the people at the front desk and the other clients staying there. I found out I’m very conversational!
“One day we were eating lunch and the manager joined us. She said, ‘Hey, I’ve got jobs if you ever want them. Managers, housekeeping, laundry.’ Do you know how rare it is to be offered a job like that? I applied and two days after I left the program I started working there!” said Caleb.
Caleb explained that Bosma taught him that his journey is just beginning and they were giving him the tools needed to prepare for the challenges of the real world. "It's my job to make the most of those challenges," he concluded.