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Learning Ally Blog: Access and Achievement
Now more than ever, people with learning and visual disabilities are flourishing in the classroom, launching productive careers and becoming assets in their communities. This blog spotlights remarkable individuals who demonstrate that having a visual or print disability is no barrier to educational success.
Our Volunteers Turn Words into Magic
On April 28, 2017 in
April is Volunteer Appreciation month! At
, we love our volunteers and wanted to highlight the story of three amazingly dedicated individuals who are always ready to give back.
This retired clinical laboratory scientist, Helen Templin, says volunteering with
Learning Ally’s DC Studio
"makes me happier and feel of value.” Templin, a native Washington, remembers volunteer service days during the 1970’s, harkening back to youth when she read for the blind, spent a year working in both Champaign, Illinois and New Orleans, Louisiana and served a three-year tour in Thailand with the Peace Corps
Having earned a Masters degree in Parasitology, Templin joined the staff at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC where she worked for 30 years. Three years ago, Helen renewed her service in reading by joining the
volunteer corps and, today works as a director with
reader David Berkenbilt while also reading herself. She “loves children’s stories” but also appreciates “learning when reading technical books.” With the members of Learning Ally in mind, Templin is more focused on the literature she is working on, knowing the positive effects that audiobooks have on our readers. From interacting with other volunteers and staff members, Helen says she finds out about all sorts of events in the DC area and participates in new experiences. Her advice to other volunteers is “Have patience.”
Vince began serving with
in 2003. After his retirement in 2002, Vince spotted an ad for volunteers in the Washington Post. He had been told that he had a “radio” voice during one of his many technical presentations as the Technical Director for the Navy’s NATO Sea Sparrow program. In addition, he had a close relative who suffered from macular degeneration and had much difficulty reading conventional texts. Vince was born and educated in Brooklyn NY. He received his electrical engineering degree from the City College of New York and spent the first two decades of his career in aerospace working on Long Island. In 1980, he transitioned from the private sector and joined the Department of the Navy working on radars, fire control systems and missiles. Vince’s daughter is a professor of Human Anatomy at Indiana University in Bloomington. A copy of a volume that his daughter coauthored on human anatomy appeared on the shelves of Learning Ally. This book would normally be read by the staff of NIH, but Vince received permission to read one of the chapters in our studio. He was surprised to learn that the electronic copy went out with a notation that one of the chapters (the Endocrine system) was read by the father of the author. Vince’s main hobby is photography. He started with his parents’ box camera in the fifth grade. He continued with developing using his mother’s soup dishes under a red safelight (a light bulb covered in red cellophane from a marshmallow bag). The picture we have included of Vince was taken by his wife Sheila on their honeymoon in Paris in 2011.
Orr Kelly is a veteran Washington newspaper and magazine correspondent. He covered the Pentagon, Justice Department, CIA and other government agencies for the Washington Star and U.S. News & World Report magazine. Kelly was a war correspondent during the Vietnam War, a Justice Department reporter at the height of the Watergate affair, and covered the original moon landings. This accomplished journalist has served with Learning Ally for two decades, chalking up better than 2,100 hours of service. He is the author of eleven books, nine non-fiction, and two special-forces thriller fiction novels. Orr Kelly is a graduate of Santa Clara University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before coming to Washington, he was the publisher of the Berkeley Review in Berkeley, CA, and assistant city editor and reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. On the weekends, Orr escapes his urban apartment for the peace, quiet and rural sprawl of an 85-acre family farm in western Maryland. He is the father of a son and daughter and his beloved wife of 56 years (and co-author), Mary Davies Kelly, died in 2006. Kelly’s view of his time with Learning Ally can be summed up as: “the great value of meeting and becoming friends with interesting people.” And his message of advice for other volunteers, “Try to get it right the first time.”
If you are interested in learning more about volunteering for
, either in our studios or virtually, please log onto
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