John L.’s Story

John Larijani first discovered Vista Center fourteen years ago, fresh from a too-early retirement and needing to learn more about computers.  

Today, you’ll find him in San Jose three days a week, in ceramics class, in tech training, taking recreation or enjoying the Wednesday lunch with friends.  

At Vista, John has found a support network and made lasting friendships. 

“It’s my second home,” says John. “The minute I stepped into this building, I felt safe and very relaxed.” And what he finds here makes Vista Center feel “like a college; I’ve been learning a lot.” 

John’s vision loss journey began in Tehran, Iran in 6th grade; within a year he had lost most of his sight. Doctors told him this permanent loss would make it impossible to get the education he so desired.  

John showing a model of his childhood home

Despite a dramatically changed idea of what his future could be, he stayed resilient and tried to manage life with low vision.  

When he came to the US, John wanted to work as an automobile mechanic. But his vision loss was too large an obstacle, so he went back to school and pursued a career in vocational rehabilitation. After 20 years working with adults with developmental disabilities, he lost his job when the center closed. He struggled to find work but felt compelled to retire early because of his vision loss. 

That same year, John discovered Vista Center and his views on life without sight changed forever. As our staff shared the many programs offered, his life got fuller, attending support groups, yoga, hiking, kayaking and, especially, the ceramics class – which quickly became his favorite activity. 

Making art has positively affected both his mental and physical health. “It’s like meditation and medication,” he says. When sculpting, John forgets any pain he may be suffering, getting joyfully lost in the act of creation. 

John holding a memorial vase with red white and blue letters

He takes pride in his work, and his colleagues. “One of the reasons why I like gifting pieces to people is I want them to realize how visually impaired and blind people can do such great things.” 

John values the community of friends and supporters he’s made at Vista Center, as well as the many new interests that keep him active. “Every time I’m there, I have a great feeling. People are friendly and care about the clients – they know how to help and what we need.” 

“I want to thank everyone at Vista Center and bless all the staff and volunteers for making this possible for me and my fellow visually impaired and blind people.”