Leah is our POZZYVIBER of the month this October! Leah has been an active Red Cross Volunteer since 2009. She first got involved with the organization by taking a CPR class, and became a dedicated volunteer shortly thereafter. Leah does a little bit of everything at her chapter, not only does she do local client casework, but she has been deployed to 2 national disasters as well. Leah enjoys taking classes and trainings and learning new skills and going beyond what is expected of her. Leah is an inspiration to many with her uplifting funny and positive attitude. “If you’re not happy the only other option is to be miserable.” Leah does not let anything get in the way of her goals or what she would like to achieve. She has a great can do attitude. Leah is legally blind and although some may think, it might be a huge barrier she does not. “The only handicap limitation or whatever you call it is what you give yourself. You are the one who limits yourself and by doing so you decapitate yourself.” One thing Leah wishes people knew, understood, or would take into consideration is that for the most part anyone with a visual impairment can do anything a sighted person can except drive legally.
One of the first things you notice about Leah when you meet her besides her big grin is her guide dog Ralphie. Ralphie gives Leah the freedom to go more places than if she used a cane. Leah refers to him as being like a partner or an extra brain. Ralphie was born at the canine development center at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, raised in VA Beech, and Went back to complete his training at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in York Town, NY. When asked what advice Leah might have for anyone considering getting a guide dog or service animal, Leah replied, “Service dogs are fun and great but they are ultimately tools and not pets, and with them come great responsibility. The better you take care of your tools the better success you will have.” I first met Leah in NYC on deployment for Hurricane Sandy with the Red Cross, and I have to admit at first I was worried about the crazy traffic and commotion of the city and that she might be lost or hit by a taxi whizzing by. I could not have been more wrong. Ralphie and Leah make such a great team; they do not need anyone else to tell them when it is safe to cross the street or that may be a big hole or crack in the sidewalk ahead. The amount of comfort and ease they brought to the clients who had just experienced major loss from the hurricane was beautiful. Clients were thrilled that volunteers came from all over to help them in their time of need, but were especially appreciative when Leah and Ralphie were there to help and assess their needs.
It takes a strong person to do things for others and an even stronger person to do things for others even when those around them may think it is not safe for them to do so. Leah’s easygoing attitude and warm friendly personality is not only a gift to the clients she helps, but also a gift to her peers. I know it took Leah a little bit of convincing others before she headed out for her first deployment that she was just as capable as anybody else was, and I am glad that she stayed persistent and pursued her goals as she helped many through a great time of need. I personally made a great friend in the end. Now that Leah has finished school and married the love of her life her biggest goals are to help her husband through paramedic school and to give birth to their first child who is on the way. When asked if Leah has any mentors or people she looks up to for inspiration she replied “too many to list.” Leah encourages people who want to be more involved in their community to find something in their community that interests them and go for it, “the only one stopping you is you.”
Thank you Leah and Ralphie for all you do!
Written by Pozzyviber Tiffany R.