Celebrating 30 Years of John!

Losing Sight

John Renforth was 18 years old when he lost his sight.

It was difficult to adjust to a new lifestyle. When we asked John about his biggest challenge at the time, he told us, “It was hard to not be able to walk around anymore.” Prior to losing his sight, John often walked all over Brilliant, Tiltonsville, and Yorkville, Ohio. He used to walk all the way to the Pike Island Dam.

Joining the Seeing Hand Association

Adjusting to an unfamiliar way of living without sight is extremely difficult. Navigating everyday tasks feels impossible.

  • How do you prepare food and eat it?
  • How do you choose which clothes to wear?
  • How do you go shopping?
  • How do you get around?
  • How do you read?
  • How do you find people to connect with?

John had to change the way he approached almost every aspect of his life. The mechanics of it. The thought that goes into it. The frustration that comes with it. It was a challenging time, and John felt lost.

Thankfully, John learned about the Seeing Hand Association. One of the most valuable, vital services we offer is a sense of community among peers going through the same struggles and challenges. He joined on June 24, 1992, which also happens to be his birthday!

The SHA was still located in the old house on Market Street back then. During his time in the old location, John found joy in making crafts. He also attended an adult camp for the blind and visually impaired in Bethesda, which had a positive impact on his journey. 

Fulfillment Through Work

Through the years, John has dedicated hundreds of hours to working with the SHA through various workshops we offer. His contributions to the association include cleaning the fire extinguishers that are refurbished by the Seeing Hand. He also takes part in the production of mops. The work John does impacts our community, and he takes pride in his contributions.

Finding Joy in Edelman Garden

A big part of John’s success comes from working in our urban garden, Edelman Garden. He has learned the many intricacies of gardening while blind. When we can use our eyes, we can see what plants need — water, sunlight, pest control. John has learned to gather all this information using only his sense of touch. He can tell when to harvest tomatoes based on the way they feel!

John and his co-worker Debbie have worked hard to cultivate Edelman Garden. Their dedication has been recognized by the Ohio County Fair — their vegetable and flower entries have won several blue and red ribbons!

John is incredibly grateful for his job. We asked him what he likes about working at SHA and he said, “Making money and meeting other people!”

John working in Edelman Garden.
John working in Edelman Garden.

SHA is a Space for People to Thrive

As you can tell, John is incredibly social. If not for the Seeing Hand Association, he may have ended up confined to his home. He may have felt increasingly isolated and disconnected from his community. Since 1992, Seeing Hand Association has given him the chance to make deep and lasting connections with people who value him as a person and recognize his many strengths.

When he’s not busy at work, John enjoys bowling, listening to music, going on picnics, and attending Christmas parties. We’re pleased to be able to offer support as he pursues these hobbies.

Congratulations, John, and happy birthday! You are a gift to our community, and we’re thrilled to have you on our team!

70% of blind and visually impaired individuals are unemployed or underemployed. Do you know someone who would benefit from our employment programs? Visit our employment page for more information and to get in touch!