(MOBILE, Ala.) - Life could have been very different for Christine Irby. She graduated high school, joined the Job Corp, and after that was enrolling in Bishop State.
And then, her future grew dim - literally. At the age of 20, a bout of spinal meningitis robbed Christine of her sight.
But she's not bitter about it. "No!," she exclaimed. "Look. There are people in worse condition than I am!" Christine could have spent the rest of her life confined to the house where she grew up. But there was another world waiting for her, a world of work, with the Mobile Association for the Blind.
Since 1926 the agency has been training people with blindness and other disabilities how to make products, like mops and brooms, that were then sold to support the agency and workers. But over the years, the demand and the generosity of the public diminished.
Funds were so low during their last pay period that workers had to wait for their full paycheck.
With the agency facing the same problem this week, they were forced to send 30 of their 50 employees home. "We know we have enough money incoming to cover this latest payroll," MAB director Cliff Barrows told us. " It just hasn't arrived yet." "Right now we have ramped down to a number we can survive with while we we consider all options that will preserve as many programs and jobs as possible."
Christine says she can get by. But she worries about some of her coworkers, whose pay checks are the only source of income they have.
"For most blind people, they like getting away from home and doing something and feeling like they've contributed, "she says. "Nobody wants to be receiving all the time and not giving."
So how can you help? Association officials tell Local 15, regardless of their financial future, they are hoping to place many of their workers with local employers.
Contact the Mobile Association for the Blind if you might be one such employer.
Free training is available to help them mesh into your workplace.