Hi, my name is Jessica. I am 28 years old and have been volunteering at Hosea Thrift Store since 2011. I come in every week with my friend Joyce she helps me. You see I am blind and have amniotic syndrome this causes me to have a missing toe on my left foot and missing finger tips. This is its own challenge since I can only read Braille with one hand. I also have a cleft lip palate which I have had to have several surgeries in my life to correct these issues.

For me however, these characteristics do not describe me. I want people to see beyond the disabilities and the obstacles i’ve had to overcome and see my heart. I have some of my heart here at Hosea.

Volunteering at Hosea Thrift Store is my favorite part of the week! The jobs I do here may not be exciting to most, but to me they are exciting and rewarding. I know everything I do helps. I bag clothes, that either go to the drop-in or Goodwill. I also sort hangers, string buttons, vacuum the upstairs. I also steam wrinkled clothing to go downstairs for sale.

I have had great opportunities in my life. One of them was when I got to go to Mexico with my church youth group, I helped by cleaning bathrooms, dishes, helped in the kitchen. One of my favorite experiences was singing in the streets and even at the grocery store. You see one of my great joys is singing. I feel that God gave me a gift and I use it wherever I can. I even sing here at the thrift store whenever they ask me to. I have sung  for many events, even Hosea auctions.

For about a year I was at the Colorado Center for the Blind where I developed confidence in myself. I learned a lot there but while I was gone I missed Hosea. Couldn’t wait to come back.

Recently I have had the most wonderful opportunity to travel to Europe with my group, United By Music North America, it’s a group that gives people with disabilities a chance to perform live. Again while I was gone i missed everyone at the thrift store.

During my time volunteering here I also helped down at the Drop-In Center. While I was there I made some Braille signs so i could help hand out supplies to the kids. Several kids asked me how braille works and if it was hard to learn? They wanted to learn the alphabet and even tried to read it. For me if you give me a written piece of paper I can’t read it and I feel only a blank page. On occasion I can feel the ink but I still can’t read it. Print means nothing to me just like to most sighted people Braille is a bunch of dots. But once a person learns Braille, they realize the beauty of being able to read and understand the world. It was a great experience to bring Braille to Hosea. I am so grateful to be a part of the community at Hosea. I feel a great connection to our troubled youth, because we all have obstacles and barriers that get in our way and need help to meet that challenge.

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