Nancy and Sophia

Interim HealthCare Blogs
Posted: 8/15/2019 10:03 AM by Interim HealthCare
Interim has many long-term clients, but none who have been together as long as our aide Nancy and her client Sophia.

Sophia is a 91-year-old who has been totally deaf since birth, and legally blind since the age of 30 but she has lived a productive and useful life. Sophia spent from age 5 to age 21 in a state facility as a ward of the state. At age 21 she returned to her family where they learned signed language. Sophia had worked for the Association of the Blind as a seamstress. She would sew covers for appliances as well as office machines. In her spare time at home, she would make her own clothes as well as clothes for her family. Sophia has travelled the country with the help of the Association of the Blind. Volunteers would meet her at the airport, and she would stay in college dorms. When Sophia was 40, missionaries met Sophia and brought her to an eye surgeon who was able to restore some of her sight to the point where she could read. It has since diminished to the point of needing Braille to read.

Nancy grew up in Upstate NY, with 7 siblings and 32 children her parents fostered. She took music lessons and can play multiple instruments and has a beautiful singing voice. To earn a badge in Girl Scouts she learned sign language. She also speaks Spanish, French and Farsi. She learned Farsi when taking care of a client from Afghanistan who said she was too old to learn English, so Nancy learned Farsi! Nancy moved to the Capital Region to be with her future husband and went to work with the Center of Independence.

Nancy and Sophia met 35 years ago when Nancy became her aide. Sophia was living at a large apartment building in downtown Albany and needed help with grocery shopping and other activities. In 1989, that building became a shared aide building and Interim was the agency selected by Albany County to provide aides to all the residents that needed help. Nancy came to work for Interim in that year so she could remain working in the building and stay on as Sophie’s aide. The sign language that Nancy learned as a child became essential to their communication. Nancy would practice her speed of signing at home to TV commercials. She signs into Sophia’s hand as Sophia’s sight is too poor to see the signing. So, for the last 35 years Nancy and Sophia have been together. It started out as 2 days a week and now is seven days a week. They go out to parks where Sophia loves to feed the ducks and pet the dogs. They go grocery shopping, and then Nancy puts labels on the groceries the she makes with a braille typewriter that Nancy taught herself to operate. Nancy keeps Sophia informed about current events and Sophia reads her Braille bible every day. On holidays they go to restaurants and Nancy has included Sophia in her family gatherings.

As Sophia says, they are the modern-day Anne Sullivan and Helen Keller.

Sharon Bellack
Client Service Supervisor

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