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Back to Work – Vista Center Sets the Path

Jimmy Uharriet, a Teamster, was hired as a United Airlines mechanic at San Francisco Airport in 2010. In 2016, the unexpected became his reality – Jimmy was involved in an accident outside of work that left him totally blind.

“I decided not to look back, but to move forward,” Jimmy said. So, only six months after the accident that took his sight, Jimmy became a Vista Center client, working with Valerie Campos, Director of Adult Services.   “I had to be retaught everything, and I was often frustrated with what seemed to be my new life limitations,” said Jimmy.

Jimmy at a workbench, working with his handsWith the help of Vista Center’s individualized, one-to-one Orientation and Mobility (O&M) instruction, Jimmy learned the specific skills he needs to travel safely and efficiently at home, work, and within his community. New skills such as using a white cane, using public transportation, safely crossing streets, and fully using his other senses, set the initial path for Jimmy to go back to work.


Vista Center’s programs and services helped Jimmy to process the grief of losing his sight, and learn how to navigate without vision in a sighted world.  Over time, and with steady support, he regained his self-confidence as a mechanic and was able to return to work at United Airlines.

Jimmy remained an integral part of his United Airlines family.  Ed Tana, a fellow mechanic who helped retrain Jimmy shared, “Jimmy has always been a core part of our work group.  Camaraderie is big here and we are all brothers.”  The skills Jimmy learned at Vista Center helped him return to being fully functional at his workplace again. 

•	Jimmy at work, smiling at the camera with his arms crossedBefore losing his sight, Jimmy worked on jet bridges, ground power, and locksmith work. “Now I do bench-work,” he explained. “I am brought electric motors, clutch brakes, and gearbox reducers for the back system to rebuild and overhaul."  Vista Center’s Valerie Campos was impressed by Jimmy’s warm demeanor, sense of humor, and relentless motivation to continually challenge himself.  She believes this positive attitude, combined with Vista Center's services, helped him regain his career success and also introduced him to a new world of community engagement.

 Jimmy speaks highly of the services he received from Vista Center and credits Valerie and her colleagues for paving the way for him to return to work as a mechanic: “Looking back…. I would not be where I am if it was not for Vista Center!”

To read more stories from the past year, check out Vista Center’s 2018 Insight Annual Report.
To see the lists of Vista Center’s donors and supporters from 2018, go here.

We believe that vision loss need not be a barrier to independence

Services offered:

 

"Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a crucial organization that affords individuals the opportunity to live an independent life.
Having grown up with two blind parents I have first hand knowledge of the life changing support Vista Center provides in assisting individuals suddenly faced with blindness."

Jim Plunkett, former Vista Center board member