By Chris Hunsinger
Melissa Carney came to PCB as our Director of Outreach and Engagement during the Covid-19 lockdown. She began working part time for us in June of 2020 from her home in Connecticut before she was actually able to move to Pennsylvania. Once she could work full time for PCB, she started several projects which have been affected by Covid restrictions:
- She began the groundwork for a mentorship program which may eventually give high school students role models from the college student body and from the working blind portion of PCB.
- She reached out to senior citizen communities to let them know about the possibility of local support groups that they could create for people losing their vision within the community.
- She had begun discussions with PAB officials about ways to better get the PCB information to their customers and clients.
- She reached out within local communities at community libraries to educate people unfamiliar with vision loss by starting discussions with library leaders about bringing programs about blindness awareness and guide dog etiquette to the library.
- She brought her perspective to PCB on Advocacy and Self-Advocacy to peers with a presentation at our conference and her offer to assist chapters with their advocacy efforts.
- She offered all of us the chance to weigh in on topics affecting us with vision loss with her lunchtime chats.
Unfortunately, meeting restrictions made her work go a little slower than we expected, but it looked as though Melissa was headed for some meaningful new ways of reaching out from PCB to other Pennsylvanians.
Because Melissa gained this experience with PCB, she was able to accept a position with Guiding Eyes for the Blind as their Community Outreach and Graduate Support Manager and could not pass up this opportunity. Although it makes me sad to see her go, it also makes me happy to see that her work with us allows her to grow into this job which sounds like such a great fit for Melissa. Her last day of employment with PCB was Nov. 24.
She has told us that she will continue working on projects that she started for PCB, but we will be looking for a new Outreach and Engagement Specialist to keep PCB moving forward. There is another bonus for Melissa with this career change; she will be moving closer to her family in Connecticut for her new position.
I’m sure that all of you join with me in wishing Melissa smooth sailing in her new position. We will all miss her excitement and dynamism. Our loss is Guiding Eyes for the Blind’s gain.