When Bill McCormack talks about his life before the Carroll Center for the Blind, he speaks about the feelings that accompany changes in vision. “It’s amazing how much embarrassment goes along with vision loss,” Bill recounts. But the experience Bill had while at the Carroll Center made him comfortable with himself and explains “it was like walking through a door to a different life.”
Bill was born with Choroideremia, an inherited disease that causes progressive vision loss. As his vision declined over the years, Bill tripped and fell more often. By the time he was 26 years old and was declared legally blind, he was in a constant state of embarrassment. Two years later in 1978, Bill enrolled in a one-week assessment at the Carroll Center and he arrived with a lot of anxiety. Yet Bill’s first Orientation & Mobility instructor, Arthur O’Neill, changed his perception and his life in his very first class. All the stress and anxiety he had going into the assessment was suddenly gone. “At the Carroll Center you fit in and are accepted, regardless of your level of vision loss,” Bill explains. “For the first time, I wasn’t embarrassed for the mistakes I made. I felt normal.”
Bill returned shortly after for four weeks of residential training to continue building his skills and confidence. Now at age 77, Bill has been completely blind for about 25 years and lives independently. Most notably, he continues to possess the confidence he gained at the Carroll Center nearly 35 years ago and feels comfortable with who he is. Bill says, “I learned how to ask for help and remain calm regardless of how things are going – all things that can be traced back to the Carroll Center.”
Last year, Bill was in the position to make a gift to the Carroll Center to give back to an organization that has given so much to him. “There are plenty of skills I gained from my time at the Carroll Center. But for me it is all about the change in attitude. That is my motivation for giving.” Bill’s generous donation will allow the Carroll Center to continue our dedication to addressing mental health and helping our clients adjust to vision loss.
Adjustment counseling is infused into every residential program we offer via individual and group therapy sessions. The Carroll Center is unique with three full-time staff members dedicated to our clients’ mental health. Our clinical psychologist, social worker, and nurse conduct evaluations and address mental health concerns including depression, anxiety, stress, relationship challenges, and substance abuse. The Carroll Center has renamed the counseling room located in the Lulie Gund Center for Vision Rehabilitation to the William V. McCormack Jr. Adjustment Counseling Room to thank Bill for the impact he will make on our clients’ mental health.