Client Spotlight: Dawn Greene
Dawn never saw the world like a sighted person, but it was not until she was struggling in school that her vision was tested. It turned out she was brilliant, but needed vision correction.
With glasses, Dawn was successful in school and became a real estate agent in New York. At 30 years old, Dawn was told she had high pressure in her eyes, but was not concerned about managing it. She moved from New York to West Sacramento to be with her ailing mother. But when she lost her mother and beloved aunt within a year’s time, the pressure escalated. Her left retina tore, almost completely detaching, and her right retina tore like a patchwork quilt.
Dawn managed to continue working in real estate and undergoing eye surgeries without telling anyone that she was losing her sight.
“I started compensating for the vision loss,” Dawn said. “I would schedule clients earlier in the day or on weekends because I had trouble seeing at night. My lenses got thicker each year. When it became harder to see houses, I would set up other agents to do walk-throughs and I would handle the phone calls.”
But when she made a significant financial error and no longer felt safe driving, she decided it was time for a career change and found Society for the Blind.
“It was a relief when I no longer had to pretend I could see,” she said. “I can’t tell you how awesome it was for me to meet the people at Society for the Blind. You can feel the love as soon as you walk in there.”
Dawn attended our Senior IMPACT Project and Core program, where she learned how to cook, stay mobile and use adaptive technology. On one of her days with the Senior IMPACT Project, she tried to walk down the stairs and nearly panicked.
“It looked like a slide with my vision,” Dawn said. “One of my instructors immediately noticed and walked me through it. It was awesome and made me cry. I didn’t have to say anything; she just knew. Society for the Blind is the most positive place I have ever been.”
When the stay-at-home order hit, Dawn was especially grateful for what she had learned.
“I’m really thankful for those lessons because not long after, we were locked down in the pandemic,” Dawn said. “Before that class, all I would cook were sandwiches and salads. Without those skills, I think the stay-at-home order would have been a lot harder for me.”
Dawn also visited our Low Vision Clinic that includes occupational therapy. There she discovered the tools she needed to continue her lifelong love of painting. Dawn thought her vision loss would mean never painting again, but our Low Vision Clinic helped her acquire a lighted magnifying tool and lenses.
Just this summer, one of Dawn’s paintings won a Juror’s Award at a KVIE event – the juror had no idea Dawn was losing her vision.
“I took my time on that painting and wanted to get it right because in my mind I was thinking this might be the last painting I get to paint,” Dawn said. “But I’m determined to keep painting. Painting is my true love. My mind still sees color, and I’m thankful for my wonk-ish vision that helps me create my art. I’ve already got another painting in mind.”