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(At Anchor Center) were being interviewed about a grant application and the
question I was asked was, “When you go to bed at night, what makes you most
proud?” I loved that question.
I am, of
course, very proud of the building we have created in the Stapleton
neighborhood. It was designed
specifically for how young children with vision impairments learn. We knew it would be good. We had no idea it would be beautiful, win
design awards, and be published in national and international magazines. We still get calls about the design and how
it impacts children’s learning. The
thing that’s most remarkable is how much of a teacher it is . . . making
navigating so easy for the children that they don’t have to spend their time
figuring out where they are – they can get to the business of playing and
learning and being typical. We are often
asked, “Where are the blind children?”, because they are so comfortable there.
They are taught and cared for by a competent and nurturing staff . . . but the
thing I’m most proud of would be the stories:
being Kerry’s daughter, Elie, who asked
her mom, “Do you wish I could see better?”
And when Kerry said, “Yes, it would be easier for you.” Elie said, “I don’t because I like who I am
and if I could see better I wouldn’t be me.”
story about a little girl from Malaysia who was having a horrible time being in
music – which is unusual for our kiddos.
She’d just come back from a visit
and she cried every time she had to listen to music. So a couple of people on our staff had the
good instincts to look up Malaysian music on their iPads. The tones are completely different – so they
played her native music for her – she calmed down immediately and they were
gradually able to get her to participate in the class and with our music.
And how honest the children are – Many years
ago we were given a grant by Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities and we were
going to get the check at the McDonalds near our old building. They
wanted the children to come along. We
loaded the children in the van that we had at the time and went over. The owner, Getta, got us all set up with
burgers, fries and drinks and then said, is there anything else you need? Justin said,
“Yea, we came for the money!”
When families first enter our programs, they
are often disheartened and overwhelmed by their your child's diagnosis. Anchor
Center is there to educate the entire family about life with a child who has
visual impairments. Our caring and compassionate staff includes teachers,
therapists, psychologists and others who have dedicated their careers to
working with children. Three members of our staff are parents of Anchor Center graduates.
One mother of a preschooler in our program
recently commented, "Before we knew Anchor Center, we were in the dark,
not knowing where we were, what could happen, what needed to be done or what
even could be done. We were full of anxiety about our child's vision and
future. Anchor Center is a great provision of support and hope that has made
Serges so confident . . . so free!"
There’s a book of joy, peppered with some
sorrow in Anchor Center. How can I not
feel like the luckiest person in the world to have had a small part in its success
for the last few years?
I’ve had a job where everyone else does the
work and I get the credit. So, thanks again
for giving me this award. What I would
only say is that we all know who the real professionals are who show excellence
every day . . . the folks who should get this and every other award. They are the parents and children, the
clients of every nonprofit. They are the
families who get up every day, who never get a break, who entrust their loved
ones to so many nonprofits. Even though
we play an important part in their lives, we are only a small part. They do the hard work of labor and love and
gutting it out – and then they give us the privilege of being a part of that
journey with them.