About Yvonne

Head shot YvonneBeforeHi, I’m so glad you’re here! I’m Yvonne Garris and please let me tell you a little about me so you will be able to get an idea of who I am. I was sighted the first forty years of my life, and frankly lead a pretty average life. I was single,
had a nice apartment in the country, had a good job that I liked, and had just bought a brand new car six months earlier. Then on March 1, 2004 I went to my job as a reviewer analyst at a
medical billing and claims company and came home early with what I thought was a migraine.
Turns out that was the last day I worked. March 2, 2004 was the last day I drove that nice
new car.

Needless to say my world was turned upside down in a big way! By that Labor Day weekend I relented and sent in the card saying I wanted to be a client of the local blind association. That was one of the hardest decisions of my life. I was then connected with a counselor from the state so I could receive services from the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services. Between the two agencies I received assistive technology, training on daily living skills, and was even sent to a rehab center to learn computer skills. All I wanted to do was to go back to work, but that did not look like it was going to happen no matter how hard I tried.

Now what was I going to do with only a high school diploma and a certificate from an at
home study course in medical claims? Oh, did I mention I was now blind? The only employed
blind people I knew were the people in the industrial division of the blind association or a couple of the counselors I ran into during my rehab process, but I did not really want to do either job. I got the bright idea to go to college, maybe I could make a difference as a social
worker.

Sadly, my mom who had been my rock through this whole adventure into blindness, developed cancer during my second semester of college. She passed only 6 weeks later. Now not only did I have school, but I had to settle her estate since I was the executrix. I had promised her that I would finish my education and I ended up graduating with honors from both Harrisburg Area Community College and Millersville University, now I have a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

When my mom passed it was like losing my sight all over again and I am not sure which grief is worse. The grief that I experienced from losing my sight or the grief from losing my mom. That is why I am working with both people that have grief from losing a person and people that have a disability; I think they are equally devastating.

During my time in college I was awarded a scholarship 3 times from a national blindness advocacy organization, and along with the scholarship you received a trip to their national convention.

My first convention was filled with mixed emotions since it was the first time I had to do anything big and exciting without my mom.

However, once I got to the convention it was great! Finally I got to meet other people that were blind doing all kinds of different jobs.
This gave me hope. Little did I
realize some of the hurdles faced by the blind population. Through my advocacy work in the blindness community I met a woman, who is blind and coaches blind business people. Her occupation intrigued me, so I looked into it more and discovered that a life coach helps people live their lives to the fullest through goal setting. This would have been nice to have when I was struggling to figure out where I now fit and what I wanted to do with the
rest of my life. People who know me will hear me refer to my past life; this is when I could see
and my life before blindness. Now I enjoy my life, even with its challenges.
Through my personal experience and my education, I hope to help empower you. Who knows maybe you will even find your passion for life again like I did. I would love to be able to talk to
you about your hopes fears and dreams. If this sounds good to you just pick a time on my calendar we can get to know each other.

Until we next meet…

Take care,

Yvonne