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Creating Joy From The Heart

Editor's Note: Cynthia Groopman lives in New York state. As a result of a medical accident, she became blind in 1988. Formerly a teacher in the New York City Public School System, she has contributed to her community through 20 years of volunteer work, for which she has been widely recognized.

To light a candle of understanding, to open minds, to touch a weary heart and to adorn a frownful face with a smile of sunshine are my passions.

For the past 20 years, I have devoted my energies and abilities and dedicated myself to achieve these goals with senior citizens.

As a recreational, educational and social work volunteer at the Dellamonica Senior Center, it has been a task of passionate joy and pleasure to teach English to non-English speakers. I accomplish this by having the students sing, engage in conversation, read, and eventually write. At the present time, I am teaching a totally blind man from Ecuador. He is amazing me so much with his fantastic memory.

A 73-year-old lady, who five years earlier came to me with no knowledge of English, learned to speak and to read, and eventually, after teaching her citizenship, she became a citizen and is proud and happy. She is my pride and joy.

As a telephone reassurance person, I cradle weary hearts, crying eyes and lonely voices with words of love and understanding, and I do this with the power of listening with God's joy. I sing with them, in different languages, pray with them, read Psalms and listen to them with an ear full of caring, a heart full of empathy and feelings of deep love and comfort. Many times I sing carols to them at Christmas. To me, that is the true spirit of the Holy day of giving, caring and sharing.

Reaching out to teach and to love is what it is all about, and I have been volunteering for 20 years as a fulfillment of what God has given me. I owe everything to God who, throughout the 23 years of my blindness, has instilled in me the willingness to help others grow and learn and to thrive and flourish in his garden.

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