Have you ever stopped to think what it would be like to be blind or visually impaired, after spending most of your life able to see? Well, that very condition is reality for many subscribers to The West Valley Talking News (TWVTN), a recorded “news magazine” provided free of charge for the past 50 years to the blind and sight challenged. TWVTN is produced weekly by Peoria’s Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind (RRRB).
As new director of development for RRRB, I have been privileged to speak to many of our subscribers and learn how much it means to them to receive our news cartridges every week.
One such subscriber is Alexis Abraham, of Sun City. Both she and her mother, Camilla Workman (now deceased), have benefited from receiving The West Valley Talking News. And both fit the mold of sighted people losing their sight later in life.
“My mother drove a car until she was 95 years old!” Abraham affirmed. “She was a real go-getter and such a wonderful person. Everyone loved her.”
But Workman’s eyesight began deteriorating and she could no longer drive or read on her own. Through Faith Presbyterian in Sun City, she learned about the free cartridge players provided to the blind by Arizona Talking Book Library. She obtained a player and signed up with RRRB to receive The West Valley Talking News.
In later life, Abraham also began having her own challenges with sight. An MRI revealed a growth in her left temple that had been there since birth. However, growing up, her vision and her life were “normal.” A Pittsburgh native, Abraham later lived in Indiana, where she served as head resident in a University of Evansville girls’ dorm. She made Sun City her home after spending 25 years as a caregiver, splitting the time between Sun City and Illinois.
Unfortunately, in recent years “dark lines” began to appear across both her eyes, blocking her sight. As a result, Abraham began listening to The West Valley Talking News with her mother.
“It was great,” she remarked. “I came to recognize all the [volunteer] readers’ voices, and I really liked certain segments,” she said. “I still love the stories about volunteering, and I enjoy Connie’s [Brodland] stories about travel. I can’t read newspapers anymore, so The Talking News keeps me connected with what’s going on in the area.”
Sadly, on Aug. 26, 2019, Workman passed away – one month shy of her 101st Birthday.
“Mother was a special person,” said Abraham. “She was an avid swimmer and enjoyed social activities into her late nineties. When she passed away, people were so kind to Alyson and me. We felt very well cared for.
“We miss our mother,” she added, “but we’re grateful she had a very rich life.”
Today, Abraham is carrying on her mother’s legacy of appreciation for The West Valley Talking News by retaining an active subscription with RRRB.
“I listen every week,” she said.
Alexis and younger sister Alyson now live together in Sun City, while middle-sister Adria resides in California. Alyson (who is sighted) stays busy attending swim classes and connecting with people.
“Alyson is a real ‘promoter,” chuckled Abraham. “She hands out brochures and tells anybody who will listen about local organizations that provide services to make people’s lives better.
“Like everyone else today,” she concluded, “our life is not always easy, but we feel very blessed.”
Recorded Recreational Reading for the Blind is seeking new subscribers. If you know anyone sight challenged or physically limited who would benefit from our “talking news,” please have them call 623-933-0985 for information.
Please also consider a financial gift. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with no government funding. Donation options include personal checks, bequests through a Will, stock and in-kind donations. Your tax-deductible gift will assure that people like Camilla and Alexis can continue to listen to local news and uplifting information in the quiet of their home, whenever they choose. Make your check payable to RRRB, 9447 N. 99th Ave., Peoria, AZ 85345, or visit readingfortheblind.org, click on “Help Us!” and donate there. Thank you for caring!