Meet Senior IMPACT Project Mentor Angela Blackburn
A competitive pool player, Angela was living in Oakland and winning trophies at pool tournaments when she woke up one morning with no eyesight. She was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2002 and her whole world changed.
“It destroyed me,” Angela said. “I became a very angry person who was mad at the world and in denial about my eyesight.”
Little did she know, she would deal with additional health challenges while losing her vision. She had a stroke and developed thyroid cancer. Just this year, she had a heart attack.
Fortunately, in 2010, she finally accepted that she was losing her vision and moved to Sacramento to attend classes at Society for the Blind. She credits Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project and program director Pat Duffy with turning her life around.
“No one should have had to put up with me being so angry, but Pat was there for me and was a mentor for me even though I was in such denial,” Angela said. “He would talk to me like a father figure or brother. He pulled me out of a lot of that.”
Through the Senior IMPACT Project, she learned how to cook and how to get around town. But one day, she was with her Society for the Blind class at a restaurant in Old Sacramento when a woman suddenly said to her, “Oh my goodness, you’re so mean.” Angela left the restaurant in tears.
“I had to realize what she was talking about,” Angela said. “I realized that I needed to face this and be appreciative of the help I have. So I changed my attitude, and Society for the Blind gave me my life back. They showed me I could still be independent.”
Angela is especially grateful to Pat for sticking with her through the ups and downs of her life over the last nine years.
“I can’t say enough about Pat and Society for the Blind,” she said. “It brings tears to my eyes. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.”
Angela is now a mentor in the Senior IMPACT Project and regularly attends retreats and support group meetings. She participated in Society for the Blind’s National Fitness Challenge and now wants to go back to school to become a motivational speaker.
“I respect myself again,” Angela said. “Society for the Blind gave me a lot of confidence and motivation. I can tell anyone that I’m a much better person now.”