When David Judson enlisted as a volunteer at Lighthouse International, he was simply looking for a way to stay active during his retirement. "I wasn't going to retire to the funny farm," he said jokingly. So in 2001, the 80-year-old native New Yorker decided to volunteer in the reading services program at Lighthouse International, which supports clients who are visually impaired.
It was in that program that he met Maria Hansen, a blind Lighthouse client in need of assistance. Having lost her sight, Maria could no longer perform basic tasks like reading her mail and paying her bills on time. Thankfully, David was there to help.
Every Tuesday, he would spend two hours reading through Maria's mail. He not only helped her pay her bills on time, but would go through each one, line by line, so she understood what she was being charged. "His reading prevented me from being buried under a mountain of mysterious paperwork," Maria said.
David would even read the daily newspaper to Maria so she could stay on top of the latest news. And when tax season came, he would organize and collect her financial records. "She's a genuine lady," said David. "There's nothing I wouldn't do [to help]."
As the years went by, the two formed a unique bond and chemistry during their sessions. "Since we've been reading together for so long, he knows what I want to focus on," said Maria. "There's an incredible familiarity."
Their friendship even extended beyond the Lighthouse. When Maria, an avid singer, performs in local New York City theaters, David and his wife, Nadia, are always in the audience to show their support. "I'm very appreciative," said Maria. "It's nice to have him come out."
In 10 years of devoted service, David has only missed one appointment due to inclement weather. "He's incredibly reliable," said Maria. "He's a very smart, down to earth man. I enjoy working with him." The two now consider each other friends. "We have a very close relationship," said David.
For his tremendous commitment, David was honored with the Reading Services Award at Lighthouse International's 2011 Volunteer Awards. "I'm really glad he was chosen to be the recipient," said Maria. "He doesn't do it for the recognition, but he certainly deserves this award." And even though David is currently 90-years-old, he doesn't see himself leaving Maria's side anytime soon. "It's very nice to be appreciated for 10 years of doing this," he said. "And I'm going to continue as long as I'm healthy enough to do it."
Support Lighthouse International in its mission to help the visually impaired live safe, happy, and independent lives. The Lighthouse depends on the generosity of people like you, so please donate today!