Darlene Jackson, a flight attendant with United Airlines, has many fond memories of her father — teaching her to drive a stick shift car, pinning her wings on her when she graduated from flight attendant training, and walking her down the aisle at her wedding.

Darlene also remembers her father, Benjamin E. Williams, Jr., as a true hero. A U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer for 20 years, her father served in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam, earning medals for his valor. After retirement from the military, he still served his country working in the civil service as an aircraft painter.

At age 80, he began to lose his eyesight due to glaucoma and macular degeneration. Not one to give up easily, however, Benjamin heard of Braille Institute’s reputation for helping people make the most of their remaining vision so they could continue to live independent and fulfilling lives.

Darlene recalls the empowerment, joy, and companionship her father gained from attending classes at Braille Institute. “Everyone quickly became his friend and provided him with inspiration, acceptance, and encouragement to manage everyday living,” Darlene says. In addition to attending classes at Braille Institute’s San Diego Center, Benjamin enjoyed receiving audiobooks through Braille Institute’s Library Services.

In appreciation for all the life-changing help her father received from Braille Institute, Darlene and her mom arranged for an 85th birthday celebration at the center, complete with 85 homemade cupcakes.

After her father passed away, Darlene wanted to be able to express her gratitude on an ongoing basis. That’s why she set up automatic monthly donations from her bank account. Now, despite her busy flight schedule, every month she is able to pay tribute to her father.