Edith Bishel Center       https://edithbishelcenter.org


Making a Difference in our Community

Patrice Johnson really enjoyed her job as a truck driver for a local Washington company.  Driving gave her the opportunity to see different parts of the country and enjoy the freedom of the open road.  She looked forward to the occasional cross-country drive that would take her to the east coast.  She especially loved going there in the fall when the colorful leaves on the trees were most vibrant.


When Patrice was 55, she noticed that her vision was getting spotty.  Because she depended heavily on her vision for her job, she quickly saw her optometrist to see what was going on with her eyes.  Her optometrist diagnosed her with Macular Degeneration.  Macular Degeneration is caused by the deterioration of the central portion of the retina, the inside back layer of the eye that records the images we see and sends them via the optic nerve from the eye to the brain.  The retina’s central portion, known as the macula, is responsible for focusing central vision in the eye, and it controls our ability to read, drive a car, recognize faces or colors, and see objects in fine detail.  Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss, affecting more than 10 million Americans.


Within one year of her diagnosis, Patrice had lost so much vision that she had to quit her job and was declared legally blind.


 15.3 million American adults between the ages of 18 and 64, and 5.3 million American adults 65 years and older report experiencing significant vision loss. A rapidly increasing proportion of the aging population experiences eye problems that make simple daily tasks difficult or impossible – American Foundation for the Blind


By age 57, Patrice could no longer drive or read the newspaper, and she lost all confidence to cook for herself because she couldn’t see well enough to know what she was doing.  She decided that it was best to move in with her niece so that she had someone to care for her.  Losing her independence really affected Patrice; she found herself getting depressed, sometimes not even getting out of bed for several days.  “What was the point?” she said. “I can’t go out of the house, I can’t cook my own food, and I can’t even read the newspaper.  My world is a very dark and lonely place.”


American adults who lose the eyesight they need to accomplish everyday tasks are almost twice as likely to be depressed as other adults - National Center for Health Statistics


Patrice’s niece shared her concern for her aunt with a close friend.  Her friend told her about the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  Patrice’s niece gave the center a call and talked to the staff about the services available for Patrice.  They decided that she qualified to be seen in her home by the Center’s Independent Living and Rehabilitation Teacher.  Both Patrice and her niece were filled with joy to learn that there was a program that could bring some hope.


The next week Sheila Turner, the Independent Living and Rehabilitation Teacher for the Edith Bishel Center, came to Patrice’s home.  Sheila shared with her all the things available to help people with vision loss.  They spent a few hours together and came up with a plan that would help Patrice become more independent.  Over the next few months, Sheila taught her how to cook basic meals using low-vision cooking aids and marking her appliances with bump dots so that she could use the microwave, stove, and oven.  Sheila got Patrice connected with the Washington Talking Book Library so that she could listen to all of her favorite books.  And the best of all, Sheila taught her how to use the Dial-a-Ride transportation system, giving Patrice the freedom to go see her friends or go to the park across town.


In a matter of months, Patrice’s life drastically changed; she was making meals for herself and her niece, she was getting out of the house almost every day, and she was listening to several books a week.  In fact, she was so motivated that over the next year, Patrice learned to read braille and got involved in a local book club.  It was there that she met Jack.


Today at the age of 63, Patrice and Jack, now husband and wife, enjoy a yearly fall cross-country road trip to the east coast.  Patrice admits that she was about ready to give up on life.  In her state of depression, she didn’t see any reason to go on.  She directly contributes her joy for life, despite her vision loss, to the Independent Living and Rehabilitation Program through the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.


Patrice’s story is just one of thousands from those who have been helped by the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired.


Because we are a nonprofit organization, most of our services are free of charge. We are able to provide these services because of generous donations from individuals like you. 


This Holiday season, please consider making a year end tax deductible donation to the Edith Bishel Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Your donation will be used to change the lives of people like Patrice and will help us continue to provide outstanding services to our community.  


Donations can be made at our Center, through the mail, over the phone or through our web page at www.edithbishelcenter.org/donate.


Thank you for your support! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Edith Bishel Center for the Blind, 628 N Arthuer St. Kennewick, WA 99336 509-735-0699