Living blind during pandemic doesn't get area advocate down

Published on Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:55
Written by Erica Drzewiecki

@drzewieckinbh

It may seem as though there’s no end in sight to this health crisis gripping our planet, but sight is one of those relative things.

Take it from Pam Garde, who was born completely blind and has been navigating the world sightless all of her life.

We sat down with the active volunteer, advocate for the disabled, guide dog owner and popular social media personality in the fall of 2019 to learn about her life. When we reached out again to check up on her during month two of the COVID-19 pandemic, she reminded us to keep our heads up and look for the positive.

“It may look like the coronavirus will last forever, but it’s not. Eventually it’s going to end,” Garde says over the phone inside her Newington apartment, which she shares with her cat and dog.

When asked about what new challenges she’s facing, Garde is not one to complain.

“I have no new challenges,” she says simply.

She lives close to downtown and is accustomed to daily walks with her dog to Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks or the Lucy Robbins Welles Library. The library and Starbucks are closed right now and Dunkin’ is takeout only, so that’s not an option for her these days.

Her volunteer duties - serving on the committee at the Library for the Blind & Physically Handicapped in Rocky Hill and the American Council for the Blind, Connecticut branch, are both on hold. Neither have met virtually yet.

Also a member of Annunciation Parish and regular voice in the choir at St. Mary’s Church, Garde’s church activities are cancelled for the time being. No Palm Sunday; no Easter vigil.

Still, this strong-willed and cheerful lady is finding new ways to keep busy.

“If I need something I’ll walk to Walgreens, they’re still open,” she says. “I’m reading a lot of different authors, listening to podcasts, feeding the animals, watching television. Just trying to do my best.”

Garde gained an online following a few years back after posting photos of she and her dog’s walks downtown to the What’s Happening in Newington Facebook page, along with helpful advice about approaching guide dogs in public. Users called her contributions to the social media platform “refreshing.”

Nowadays, ask her for advice about encountering new tests to your patience, and see it from Garde’s perspective:

“It’s hard to keep positive because staying home and finding new activities to do after you’ve exhausted everything is hard,” she says. “I’m sick and tired of this. I want it to end. Feel your true feelings. If you’re having bad day, have a bad day. Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to smile. Hit a punching bag or a pillow - something soft that doesn’t say ‘ouch’ back. Have faith and be strong.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at edrzewiecki@centralctcommunications.com.



Posted in New Britain Herald, Connecticut Prime Time Magazine on Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:55. Updated: Thursday, 30 April 2020 15:58.