Patrick Lopez Works to Bring NFB to Grant County

Silver City, NM – Patrick Lopez, a 40-year-old Social Work student at WNMU, has been working hard this past year to bring the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) to Silver City. He is hoping to have it established by January.
Patrick found out that he was losing his vision in April 2011 due to Diabetic Retinopathy, brought on by uncontrolled diabetes, and had to leave his job as an Administrative Banker. In 2012, he became a member of the NFB after attending a convention in Albuquerque. Shortly after, he was invited to sit on the board on the New Mexico Association of Blind Students (NMABS). Seven months ago, Patrick moved back to his hometown of Silver City, NM where he had a better support system amongst his family and friends.
“Basically, what the NFB is, is a support group that advocates for the blind and helps them learn to live independently…When you start losing your vision, it feels your life is ending, and we just want to give these people hope,” Patrick says.
Bringing hope is just one of the many reasons for Patrick, though. He hopes to advocate for blind and visually impaired people in Silver City by making streets and building more accessible. Right now, he says, the streets in Silver City are a nightmare for the blind and visually impaired. He hopes to get better sidewalks, more accessible crosswalks, and more accessibility on campus for people with disabilities.
Patrick and his colleges have already contacted the state, now they just need to put together a constitution and assemble a board. Three of the five board members must be legally blind for them to be approved. One of the biggest problems they are facing right now, is reaching out to the blind citizens in Silver City and bringing them in. Patrick is hoping to reach out to counselors in the community and let them know about the support group so that they can pass down the information to their clients.
Patrick wants anybody who is trying to cope with their blindness to know, “Don’t let it bring you down, it’s not the end of the world. There is help out there, and if you need any extra advice you can contact me. I’m all around campus.”
He is hoping to have the chapter up and running by January. In December, he and Kaity Ellis are hoping to host an event to raise awareness for the blind community with an obstacle course that people have to go through blindfolded with a white cane.

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