It has been a long journey for Vernon Holmes to become a Lighthouse employee. A few years ago, Vernon was taking classes at The Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Charleston, doing things like computer training, braille, and art. When an opportunity to work at the Summerville facility came up, the Association helped him prepare for the interview, and he got the job!
Unfortunately, he was on dialysis, which takes three full days each week. These days overlapped with the work week, and so when the job was offered to him, he wasn’t able to accept.
But the Lighthouse told him his job would be held for him until he could change his schedule. It took a full year before there was availability for him to change his dialysis schedule. Vernon was officially hired at our Summerville, South Carolina facility in June 2018.
For Vernon, who lost his mother in March, the job couldn’t have come at a better time. “When my mom died, I just wanted to get out of the house and go to work,” he says. Now he finds himself working three days each week at the Lighthouse, and it’s going great.
“At the Lighthouse, we all treat people equally, we all treat people right,” he says. “That’s what I love about that job. We laugh and we joke and we chat with each other. Ask each other how our day was, what you did last night. And my boss is a really good person.”
He’s learned new skills on his job and loves a challenge. “We put things together, we package it, we seal it, and we put it in a box so it can be shipped off,” he says.
He finds it easy to succeed in the Lighthouse environment. “They don’t push you, they don’t get mad at you. They let us know we’ve got to get this right. Make sure everything is sealed right, packaged right. We don’t want to lose the contract. They say, ‘Make sure you do that right. Take your time.’ And they watch us and let us know if we’ve done something wrong.”
Vernon has had diabetes since he was six years old. Over the years, he’s been in and out of the hospital, and as he got older, the diabetes has affected his vision. He has had eye surgery on both eyes and though he lost sight in his left eye, he has some sight in his right eye when he wears special glasses.
Now, at age 44, Vernon needs a new kidney. He’s been on dialysis for the past four years, and has been on the waiting list for a kidney since then too.
“I want to be able to work full time, or at least add one more day,” he says. “On off days, I want to be able to go to school and take up some kind of trade. I’d like to be able to teach other people what I know about diabetes.”
“I just want to live my life,” he says. “To just work and to live.”
Vernon got his first call about an available kidney about a month ago, but it didn’t pan out, and Vernon is left waiting for the next available kidney. This is an indefinite wait.
Vernon’s blood type is O positive. If you or someone you know, has this blood type and would like to donate now please contact the Medical University of South Carolina Transplant Center in Charleston, SC. Visit their website www.muschealth.org/transplant or call them at (843) 792-5097.
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