Milwaukee woman fights blindness to achieve her goals
Stephanie Graham, Courtny Gerrish
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
MILWAUKEE - If you take a look around the warehouse at Beyond Vision on Milwaukee's west side, It's a place bustling with activity as workers assemble parts for big wisconsin companies like Briggs and Stratton and Osh Kosh Corp. The common thread--most of the workers at Beyond Vision are blind.
Jim Kerlin is the CEO. He explains, "We enrich the lives of people who are blind through the power of work."
The blind population has a 70 percent unemployment rate. Beyond Vision works to defy that.
Kerlin adds, "We're sort of good at understanding the needs of people who are blind, the needs of how to overcome the lack of vision as a barrier to being able to do a really good job, be efficient."
To see Frenchie Randolph's nimble fingers, you would never know she can't see the project she's working on. She started losing her sight as a child as a result of lead poisoning.
"So I had to wear glasses as a child, at a year and half," Frenchie says.
By her mid-20s she was rapidly losing her vision. Today she can only see shadows.
"It was a life change. Something I knew I had to deal with, something I knew I had to adapt to, but I knew I didn't want anybody to take care of me," Frenchie explains.
It wasn't easy, but she learned how to live with her condition, and even raised six children.
"I don't want any pity, I don't want you to feel sorry for me. I just want you to see what I'm capable of doing," Frenchie said.
Frenchie is also in school, working on getting a degree in Special Education. She wants to use her experience to help students.
"They need somebody to say, it's OK if you mess up a little, but you know, get back up," she added.
Frenchie's story is just one of many at Beyond Vision, and she hopes others take the same steps towards independence.
"It's a step for people who don't know where to go, who don't want to stay at home, but work. It's a chance to make you feel like you're important, you still exist in the world, you don't have to sit at home," Frenchie urges.
Frenchie also recently received a national Employee Of The Year honor!