Shirley Brown wanted something to do during her free time when not working for AT&T as a corporate trainer.
“I went through all the craft things in the ‘80s - macramé, ribbon wreaths,” the Farmington Hills, MI, resident said. And they sufficed - for a time.
Then she took a braille class and became a certified transcriber. She didn’t know anyone who was blind. “Something made me think, ‘This is what you need to do,’” she said. “I did it, and I’m still here.”
Brown is one of Seedlings’ longest-serving volunteers. She started in 2000 and has assembled more than 10,000 books for Seedlings in the 19 years since.
Brown adds the braille transcription to board books for Seedlings’ youngest readers.
“It’s amazing how it adds up,” she said.
Brown learned of Seedlings while transcribing textbooks into braille for another non-profit.
Ann Christenson, Seedlings’ Production Manager, said Brown’s dedication and loyalty make her stand out. In 2004, Brown was honored with Seedlings’ Frances Hoetger Award, which recognizes volunteers who have gone above and beyond.
“Because of her braille skills, Shirley would assemble the more difficult books that I wouldn’t give to anyone else,” Christenson said.
Brown retired in 1986 from her AT&T job, but she continues to work as a volunteer at Seedlings, and the Seedlings staff is very thankful she does!
“It’s rewarding to me to help a blind child read books a sighted child can read,” she said.