In 1972 Darrell Pike was pursuing employment in another business area, but it just wasn’t working out for him.
Then an opportunity became available to work with the CNIB and the Corner Brook man jumped at it.
“It was my life’s work,” he said on Wednesday morning after being presented with a CNIB Century of Change Medal during an event at Corner Brook City Hall.
Pike was one of two people honoured with the medal, marking the CNIB’s 100th anniversary. The other was Terry Gardner.
“I just hit my niche right away,” said Pike of his work with the organization helping people who are blind or partially sighted and their families and people in the community.
Pike lost his own sight at the age of nine.
“I think by being blind it showed people that blindness wasn’t the end of the world for a lot of people.”
He worked with the CNIB for 36 years, retiring in 2008.
“I enjoyed every minute of it.”
But his involvement with the organization hasn’t stopped. He now volunteers and continues to advocate for people with vision loss. He’s particularly looking forward to getting out to the CNIB family camp and an adult camp that will take place in August.
“I’m honoured,” he said when asked how it felt to receive the medal.
“It’s not something that I expected. I just go about my work as quiet as possible and if I can help anyone during a day, well my day has been well spent.
“This old blindness. I’m in charge, not the blind.”
Gardner’s vision loss occurred midway through his working life.
When he first got involved with the CNIB as a client one of the first things he did is learn Braille. Pike was his teacher.
“We used to fight over it,” he said with a laugh as Pike would tell him to slow down, that there was lots of time to learn, but Gardner wanted to conquer it as fast as he could.
It wasn’t long before Gardner got more involved with the organization, serving on the board and helping in the office.
“Wherever I can help out I always like to do whatever I can,” said the man who has become an advocate for people with disabilities.
The thing he takes the most pleasure in is helping with peer support.
When the office gets a new client, who is having struggles or a hard time dealing with their vision loss, they often call on him.
“Obviously, because I’ve walked in their shoes. I know what they’ve experienced and I know what they’re in for.”
Helping them, he said, has given him the most gratification.
For him it’s about giving back to an organization that has helped him so much.
“If it wasn’t for the staff at the CNIB, to be quite honest with you because I had struggles for four years, I probably wouldn’t be here.”
Gardner was also honoured to receive the award.
“It’s nice to know that there’s somebody paying attention. That you get the recognition for the time that you put into it after a lot of years of putting time into it.”
The event at city hall also included a flag raising and proclamation signing.