For more than 40 years. Ruth Slater worked as a registered nurse. Her career allowed her, she says, “to live and work in some places most people just visit,” including Alaska, Hawaii, and California.
About 10 years ago, however, she was diagnosed with macular degeneration. As it worsened, she found it increasingly hard to work — and, a year and a half ago, she wasn’t able to find new employment.
At a support group for people with macular degeneration, Ruth heard others talk about Braille Institute and how much it had helped them. So she enthusiastically enrolled last spring. “I took classes in daily living skills, rights and resources for those with low vision, cooking, printmaking, and ceramics,” she says.
Almost immediately, Ruth experienced dramatic differences. She forged new friendships with fellow students. “Everyone there,” she says, “is very outgoing, open, and honest about what they’re going through, which makes being there a very refreshing, positive experience.”
That uplift was further heightened by the Braille Institute staff and volunteers. “Those incredible people reach out and support you, taking away the frustration and giving you back your independence. They’re as caring as the best nurses I’ve ever worked with.”
Ruth’s regained independence found tangible results even she couldn’t have anticipated. At the end of last semester, she entered the Braille Cook-Off, and her recipe for quiche with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and sage took top prize. “It was pretty doggone good,” she admits. She’s now looking forward to contributing to her family’s holiday dinners for the first time in five years.
Her talents are shining again in other areas, too. “Before I lost my vision,” Ruth says, “I always made handmade gifts for family members.” Now an image she created of colorful flamingos in her first printmaking class at Braille Institute was selected for an art exhibition at Los Angeles City Hall. “My picture of the flamingos will be my Christmas gift to everyone this year,” she proudly exclaims.
But Ruth rejoices even more in a gift that has been bestowed upon her. “Braille Institute,” she sums up, “has given me the ability to stop thinking about what I can’t do, and look at what I can do.”
Get a copy of Ruth’s winning recipe.