The Leader

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“I spent 120 days here. I was released from the Department of Corrections for a small child support case in October 2017.  Many people getting out of jail often don’t have a place to go when they get out. My agent wanted to put me in a transitional living facility, but I told her if she would give me an opportunity to find a place, I would find one. The Solutions Center guided me and gave me the resources for counseling, Rent Smart, and NAMI. The group therapies in shelter really stuck with me. I came in with an open mind and listened to the staff here. With their guidance, I was able to succeed and get into my own housing. Getting my first apartment in 10 years and paying my rent every single month on time is what I’m most proud of. I’ve been put down most of my life, told that I am a failure and that not going to amount to anything in life. I want to show others I am a success. I refuse to be another statistic.”

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“I was hit in the head back in 2016 and had multiple surgeries - detached retina, cataracts, and oil transplants to hold the retina in place. Basically, I was at a 20/200 when I first started my surgeries, and now I’m at a 20/400 which means that, according to the State, I’m deemed legally blind. There are not as many visually impaired people in Fond du Lac, but they are out there. People just don’t realize it. I want to help the community by advocating for talking stop and go lights. I just completed Leader Dogs for the Blind and that was a 360-hour commitment.  It’s a mobility training program to learn how to use the cane, cross intersections properly, how to stop traffic while crossing the intersection, and blind service dog training.  Next month, I get to practice in my own community and record what I’ve learned and demonstrate problem-solving skills. If I’m accepted, I will hopefully be matched with a service dog. I can participate in a program throughout the U.S. that helps blind people enroll in school for dog training. My goal is to be able to train leader dogs for blind people or become a mobility instructor which is a 3-year intern program through Leader Dog.”

“When I first enrolled in Leader Dogs for the Blind, I just took a deep breath and told myself “I’m here, now it’s time to learn”. The staff here helped me fill out applications and doing little odds and ends to get me to that point. I had a few surgeries during the program and had to adapt the way I live by feeling and touch. It’s a matter of trusting in others and trusting in the tools that I’ve got. I believe in this cane. Now I can walk head back, shoulders back, head high, and I look straight ahead. I don’t look at the ground anymore. I let the cane feel my way. I ran over a penny last night with my cane at Kwik Trip, and I knew that it was a penny. I let my ears help guide me through the intersection. I did exactly what my instructor told me. Get to the intersection, let it run a full cycle, and just close your eyes and listen. When I cross, I put one hand out to stop any traffic and I get across. I had one little kid come up to me the other night and I heard him ask my girlfriend “Is he blind”?  She said “Yes, he’s blind. He’s practicing and he’s doing a great job”.

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“Rent Smart provided one-on-one training with me because I can’t read the small print. After I graduated from the program, it was a sense of accomplishment.  This was something I achieved.  It wasn’t really part of my rules and regulations, but it was required here at the Solutions Center. The case manager guided me and believed in me. I was in this office every Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing my homework down and walking me through it. Everybody should take that program. It’s a great program because it goes over your rights as a renter, helps you find an apartment, and find out different things about the landlord.  It got me into a stable living environment. People are starting to realize that yes, he will pay his rent on time, he’s not a problem and he’s becoming the person that he wants to become. It’s all about setting goals. If you set a goal high enough and you achieve it, it shows others that if you work hard you can achieve your goals.”

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“Everyone has challenges. There are challenges every single day. If you put that challenge in front of you and keep an open mind, that challenge can be a success and can be conquered. I’m always thinking positive and try not to be negative. Yes, it’s depressing that I can’t go out and drive a vehicle. It’s depressing I can’t work for the rest of my life, but there are things that I have achieved like getting my own apartment, being able to go to the grocery store and walk down the aisle without getting hurt. Moments like these are successes. And I’m one of those examples because I learned that from the Solutions Center. My cousin moved into the same apartment building about a month after I did. Family has always been really big in my life. Having her in the same building has not only brought us closer but gave me the tools I didn’t have. Things I couldn’t do before like getting to the grocery store or reading the tags on the shelf is easier now.  We all try to stick together, and Solutions Center taught me how helped me establish my support network together. I appreciate everything that they’ve done for me here and encourage the community to find out more about what the center can do for people. They are here to help people and guide you in the right direction.”

Casey FrenchComment