Parkway Place Resident Brings Joy to Sight-Impaired Residents

Clubs and Organizations

January 27, 2016


The magic of books is truly ageless. They have the ability to transport the reader to moments and places in time never before imagined. When Parkway Place resident Barbara McNeir retired last September, she began her "golden years" by enjoying one of her favorite pastimes: reading. But her love of books quickly grew to mean much more. She became involved in the senior living community's book club, and when the book was chosen for the month, the group ran into an issuethere was no audio book available and the sight-impaired residents could not participate. McNeir took it upon herself to include them, and she began reading to sight-impaired members three times each week so that they could engage in the book discussion. Word quickly spread about her willingness to read aloud to others and demand for her commentary increased. Soon she will begin reading news articles and short stories to other at the community, upon their request. McNeir is a powerful example of how seniors are using their retirement to give back to otherseven their fellow seniors.  

"Reading books is something I have loved all of my life," said McNeir. "One of the things I looked forward to in my retirement was reading more often. When it came up that the book club couldn't get a book on audio tape for our sight-impaired members, I knew it would eliminate them from participating and I wanted them to be able to enjoy the book. I didn't want their inability to read the page to prohibit them from enjoying the journey a book can give them, nor the insight and challenge to their imagination."

McNeir has a background in the performing arts and drama, so to her, reading aloud is just like preparing for a play. She uses theatrical flair and techniques when she reads aloud to make the stories sound engaging to the group. McNeir reads to residents with macular degeneration and other eye impairments. Residents like Betty Bryant wouldn't be able to participate in the book club without her help.

"I can read some, but my eyesight isn't very good, which makes reading very strenuous for me," said Bryant. "Barbara brings the books alive the way she reads the stories with so much expression. I think it's great that she volunteers her time to read to those of us who have trouble with reading. One of my favorite parts about being in the book club is the discussion each month, and because of Barbara I didn't have to miss out on that."

"This is something I love doing, and what I was looking forward to the most in my retirement was doing things for others," said McNeir. "I love getting to know the residents here and listening to their stories. I know that there are many other residents here who could benefit from being read to, and I'm excited to explore that option in the coming months."

"Barbara's creativity in helping her fellow residents is truly extraordinary," said Sunny Chatagnier, executive director of Parkway Place. "We cannot thank her enough for the time and effort she puts into making sure that the residents who want to enjoy written stories and articles are able to."