Association for the Blind & Visually Impaired
Each year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan presents the Claude Pepper Award to a retiree volunteer who is an outstanding senior citizen advocate and who demonstrates a strong concern for the special needs of older adults. The award is named after the late U.S. Congressman who campaigned for senior citizens' rights.
We are very excited because Jim Bonnema, a longtime volunteer at ABVI, received this year's Claude Pepper Award. To only say that Jim is a volunteer understates his contributions to ABVI and our clients.
Jim is a Board member and served as Board President for several years. He greets and welcomes clients who come to our agency for assistance in adjusting to loss of sight. He manages the switchboard, helps with our store and provides information and connects callers to the right service.
He can sense when a client needs encouragement, and he draws from his own experience in accepting and managing vision loss. Jim hopes others can find the encouragement, skill, training and insight that he has gained himself since becoming visually impaired. He attributes his growth, in part, to the work with our staff, thus allowing new clients to also gain the trust and hope necessary to recover from vision loss.
Jim uses his status as senior citizen and person with visual impairment to lend credibility and impact to his encouragement of the seniors he meets when he volunteers with us. As you well know, vision loss is a prime factor in reducing independence in seniors. By helping many hundreds of seniors to access and accept services, he has helped immeasurably in furthering our mission of promoting independence in those who experience vision loss.
We congratulate Jim on this award and are honored that his efforts on our behalf have been recognized.
What helped you to cope with your vision loss? What advice do you have for others? These questions spurred useful responses of encouragement and practical advice from scores of our clients who volunteered to participate in a recent formal study.
Author-educator, Kaye Olson, analyzed the responses and found that "hope is essential to those with vision loss." Acceptance and outreach to others were seen as key in making a positive adjustment. Those who readily sought out special equipment, teaching and support groups were more successful in maintaining independence and peace of mind.
We invite you to read the responses of study participants. Files are in pdf format.
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Click here to read a description of the survey.
Click here to read a summary of the questions.
Click here to read Appendix D.
Click here to read Appendix E.