Tom Miller says he was born on a Saturday 60 years ago. If you ask him, he can tell you the day of the week for any date you give him… it is quite a marvel and makes for a lasting impression! Tom was born and raised in Washington and has been blind since birth. He began his career at the Lighthouse on March 17th, 1980, just nine months after graduating from the Washington State School for the Blind.
Over the past 39 years, he has worked on a variety of different projects, from nuts and bolts to mops. A few months ago, Tom helped maintenance on a project to identify who had building keys and then tracked the data collected using Excel. Currently, Tom works on canteens for the U.S. Military, which includes: valve assembly, dust covers, the gasket machine, and more. Tom takes great pride in his work and shares the need to set parts aside if they are not good quality.
Tom is part of the Supported Employment Program (SEP) at the Lighthouse. He works 5.25 hours, four days a week, and has a Job Coach that, as Tom puts it, “He sets me up where I’m going to work.” His Job Coach also helps him get coffee at break and lunch times, which is something Tom very much looks forward to, although he wishes the coffee was stronger.
On Tuesdays, Tom takes braille classes at the Lighthouse to learn the newest code (Unified English Braille) and has recently began taking part in a braille reading lunch group called Braille Blazers, which meets twice a month. On Thursdays he enjoys practicing his keyboarding on the computer for one hour after lunch, saying, “The time goes by too fast.”
Tom has lived in Renton for 22 years in an adult family home with lifelong friends. He takes Paratransit to and from work, getting picked up between 7:30-8:00 each morning and getting home around 5:00 in the evening.
In his free time, Tom enjoys listening to radio. He follows the news, he is especially interested in the weather, and listens to many sports games, especially college and pro football and baseball. He also enjoys listening to music, classical is one of his favorites but he has been known to be dancing in his chair listening to the best of the 60s or 70s. When asked what makes him most happy, Tom smiled and said, “I’m happy to work here at the Lighthouse.”