Going Blind While Living in a Homeless Shelter

By Diana Robinson

 I am 56 years old.  I have five children, three girls and two boys.  I am legally blind, and attending the Cleveland Sight Center two days a week, where I am learning how to walk around, cook and use the computer and many other things.  I can learn to help myself stay independent.  I live on the west side of Cleveland in a senior citizen building, where they have different activities such as bingo and many other games.  I also have seven grandchildren, who I love spending most of Sundays with.  I love spending time with my family.  I am a very outgoing person.

Twenty-seven years ago my family and I experienced with homelessness for the first time. My husband had a fall out with the landlord about repairing items in our apartment.  One thing led to another and the landlord evicted us from the apartment.  I was pregnant at the time and we had no place to go but the shelter. 

Staying in the shelter was a bad experience for my family.  Before they changed the law, my son was twelve at the time and he was not allowed to stay at the women’s shelter with us.  So he was taken to another shelter for boys, which he ran away from because he wanted to be with his sisters and baby brother.  When my son ran away, he ran to his aunt’s house and while there he got jumped on and his arm got broken.  The kids started school.  Getting out of the shelter earlier each day, and having to move to a different shelter because you can only stay at the shelter for a certain length of time became difficult for the whole family.   This lasted for at least 2-3 months before the shelter and CMHA helped us to find a place so that my family could be together again.

I started losing my sight from my left eye at 30 years old and gradually became totally blind over time.  I started to have serious eye issues right at the time I became homeless.    Learning how to get around on my own within the neighborhood has been my goal for the past five years since I became legally blind.  I take classes at the Cleveland Sight Center Tuesdays and Thursdays each week to help me find a job.  This is to help me function as others do.  The staff at the Sight Center do excellent work and are so helpful to me.  They help me with everything I need to do to get the job done.  The biggest issue I face each day is being alone.  I don’t want to be alone at all.  My family visits me often, but somehow, I still feel alone. 

The Cleveland Sight Center is helping me to address my issues by helping me to be more outgoing with the different classes they offer, like camping, bike riding, bowling, computers, and knitting to just to name a few.  As we live each day we all learn to take on each day as it comes, to roll with the punches and to be able to stand and be counted as one.

Thank you for your support and concerns.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle August 2013 Cleveland, Ohio