Feature Writer Steven Famiglietti – Post College Part 2

Finally after a year and a half, I found a job at a small insurance company. This was my first full time job. I was hired as the Office Manager for the company. This gave me a chance to learn some professional skills and work in a good environment. Some of my responsibilities included taking phone messages, completing computer tasks, keeping the office organized and helping others in the office. The job lasted a few months because the company got bought out by a large insurance company and all of my job responsibilities changed. I did not have the necessary background to continue at the company. I could have gone to school and received all the necessary training, but, I didn’t want to spend my time selling life insurance policies to people. I left the job at the end of the year and began a new job for the new year.

I found this new job as a telemarketer for a commercial collections company. At first, this seemed like a very exciting job. I figured that since I liked talking on the phone, this would be a natural decision for me to do phone and customer service work. Unfortunately, I quickly began to hate the job. I had to make calls to small businesses to convince them to use our collections services. Typically, 85 to 90% of the calls I made didn’t get me any responses. I hated this job so much that I would think up excuses on Sunday afternoon so that I didn’t have to go into work on Monday mornings.

Finally, I decided to leave the job. I handed my boss my letter of resignation and was surprised to hear his response. He said “I will pay you to come in each day and find a new job for as long as I can afford to have you hear. You can’t just go home with no job. Someday, someone else out there will be smart enough to realize that you have an education, which means you have the ability to think, make important decisions. This person will look beyond your eye condition and hire you. I believe in you and I won’t let you leave this company without another job lined up.” I will never forget when he said this to me. For the first time, I knew I had found an employer who was fair and honest.

A few weeks later, he came to me and told me about a new business that had opened in the area. The company was being run by a gentleman and his father. The owner of the company, he explained, was legally blind. The company sold products to people who were legally blind, just like me. I called the company and spoke to this gentleman. A few days later, I visited the company, met that gentleman and had an interview with him. I began to work there at Vision Dynamics two days before Thanksgiving and stayed employed there until the end of 2005.

While at Vision Dynamics, I met many people who experienced blindness and low vision who were just like me. I was their store manager. My responsibilities included waiting on customers, helping them find products and solutions for their daily struggles, keeping a clean, neat environment, teaching people to use computers with adaptive software and running a Summer Camp program for children.

After so many years of thinking that I was different from everyone else, I saw firsthand at my job how so many other people were losing their vision and looking for answers to questions like, “How will I read my daily mail, how will I pay my bills, how will I prepare meals, how can I keep my independence? I began to realize that I was not alone, I had the same issues and there were products and services out there that could help me. This was a huge turning point in my life.

I began to take the bus to and from work each day. Even though my father was happy and willing to drive me to work, I decided to take a step towards doing things on my own. The bus worked out well. After about a year of this, I found my first apartment and moved in with a roommate. By observing other people I met at work, I would learn to do things on my own. I learned to cook by using the kitchen products I had sold to other customers. I bought a cane and used it to help myself each day. I began to teach other people how to use computers running screen magnification or screen reading software programs, just like the ones I used to ring up daily sales! I learned that my life was not any different than anyone else’s life. I could do everything that everyone else was doing, the difference was, I would do things using different equipment or different methods but the end result was, I was getting the job done.

After living in an apartment for two years, I bought my first home, a 3 bedroom townhouse. I moved into it alone and continued to embrace my independence. After several months, Whitlee, my first guide dog arrived and I learned how to become independent outside of my home.

Comments are closed.