Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tina starts a new chapter in her life

This picture is of Tina and her guide dog Rosa.

Last week I posted that I was going to a going-away event. It was for my friend Tina who I’ve known since my days at the University of Kansas. We advocated for better services for blind and visually impaired students together, along with Leann (who answered me by the way…for those that e-mailed asking.)

Tina is totally blind as a result of too much oxygen in the incubator when she was born premature. She is an organizer. She was always organizing game nights, and parties and other social events. She loves working with kids of all ages.

When I knew her at K.U. she was getting her masters in speech therapy. After three years of being a speech therapist, however, an opportunity came Tina’s way that she couldn’t turn down.

When she was young the local teacher of the visually impaired here had organized events for blind and visually impaired youth to give them some experiences that too often these kids (like me) miss – like team sports or camp.

Camp Fire USA took on the program and created a modestly paying job to coordinate the program as well as other Camp Fire volunteers. It was the perfect job for Tina. She left the security of being a speech therapist to step out on a limb and run this program.

She did this for several years, and for several years (before HPS came along in my life) I was one of her volunteers. We took kids camping, hiking, rock climbing, tandem biking. We trained for the annual Trolley Run, a fundraiser here in Kansas City for the Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired. We took kids ice skating, roller skating and played Goal Ball (a team sport developed for blind players.)

I miss those days. The program still exists through Camp Fire, but my HPS duties have become too big to spend every Saturday at Camp Fire. (Although it would probably be better for my health…grin).

Then last year another opportunity came Tina’s way. The Kansas School for the Blind created a special position for her, which I can’t really explain exactly. She helped adapt science classes, ran an exercise program for the kids that live in the dorm etc.

And then this summer another opportunity came Tina’s way – and as usual it’s unorthodox and requires Tina to step out on that limb again.

Tina’s faith is extremely important to her. There’s a group of families home schooling in Eudora, Kansas that are now in need of high school offerings. There isn’t a Catholic high school in their area, but these six families really want their kids to have an education with a Catholic emphasis.

So, Tina has given up a steady job with steady benefits to organize the curriculum and help teach at what is now a fledging non-profit Catholic high school that isn’t “official” (it isn’t being sponsored by the parish) and is being run out of the basement of one of the family’s homes.

You can call her crazy. Tina and I haven’t always seen eye to eye on everything. But, I’ve got to kind of admire her for this.

I dream about quitting my stable job and doing what I love and following my true passions. I’ve often questioned whether it’s a lack of faith, or common-sense wisdom that has kept me from doing it.

I think eventually I could piece together an income, at least enough of an income for a low cost of living place like Kansas City. What I can’t piece together is health insurance etc. And I’d need enough money to live on while I develop some form of income.

I think about it all the time but never have the guts to act.

So, hats off to Tina who has more courage than I do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I did something similar to what Tina is about to do - take off from a stable job to go teach. I took off a year from my government job when I lived overseas to be a high school teacher in a Catholic high school on a local island. It was the best job I ever had!!!! It was also the hardest job I ever had, but I will remember that experience and especially the students for the rest of my life. Tina will not regret her decision and God willing she will be doing it longer than a year. Wish her all the best from me.

Julie