NDEAM Employee Blog: George Mason
The following employee blog was submitted George Mason, an LCI warehouse receiver in Fort Bragg, N.C
I was born blind. I have several eye conditions. The two primary eye diseases I have are Aniridia and Glaucoma. I have gone through several eye surgeries for the glaucoma and cataracts. I have also had a cornea transplant that failed.
As a child, going to school was difficult. Most schools were not equipped to educate people who were blind/visually impaired. I enjoyed going to school despite the obstacles I had to face. In high school, I enrolled in extra courses and I was an athlete. Cross Country, Track and Field and Wrestling were a huge part of my life then. I graduated high school in three years with a 3.85 GPA. After high school I attended a local community college. My courses of study included Computer Information Systems, Desktop Publishing and Computer Repair and Upgrades. I earned an Associate of Science Degree in Computer Networking and Systems Administration.
Entering the workforce was quite challenging. Although I had a good education, employers refused to hire me. I took whatever work I could get at fast food restaurants, but these were dead end jobs that didn’t pay well. At one point I went to work for a nursing home. They trained me, I took the state exam and became a Certified Nursing Assistant. I worked in the healthcare field for fifteen years. Staying current with the latest information in computer technology was extremely important to me. I even opened my own computer repair business.
During this time my vision began to fail, and I had multiple eye surgeries. For more than three years I was out of work – I felt useless and worthless. It was my job to provide for my wife and yet I couldn’t get a job. My wife said to me, “You’ve got to get a job or something. You have got to get out of the house. You’re driving me crazy.” She was right, of course.
It was at this point that I contacted Services for the Blind in Cumberland County, told them that I needed to get a job and that my own efforts had been fruitless. Services for the Blind put me in contact with SSSC Store on Fort Bragg. I was given a tour of the store and the store manager told me about the mission of LCI: To employ people who are blind and visually impaired. For the first time in a long time I saw a glimmer of hope. I placed an application for employment. A couple of weeks later I received an offer for employment as a CSR at the Fort Bragg store. I have been with LCI almost nine years now. Two years ago, I got my first promotion. Now I work in the warehouse and I do receiving.
National Disability Employment Awareness Month means a great deal to me. Companies like LCI that employ those of us who are blind or disabled have given us a chance to make our lives better. We can hold our heads high and be productive members of society. Working at LCI has helped me to regain my dignity and self-respect. I believe that if I work hard, I can reach my highest potential.