Chicago native Willie Wilson was once Mr. Popular at school; a good athlete with an outgoing personality, he had big dreams. But suddenly, he began losing his eyesight and eventually his hearing too. His dreams faded and his sense of purpose left him.
But as detailed in Diana Aydin's profile in the April 2016 issue of Guideposts, Spruce Manor, an apartment community designed for individuals with disabilities and operated by Volunteers of America, returned to Willie the independence he feared he'd never again experience.
A brain tumor cost Willie his sight and hearing by age 21, dashing his dreams and leaving him uncertain of his future.
When he first lost his sight and then his hearing, Willie gave in to despair, but his grandfather told him, "You can't see or hear as well as others, but you can do anything you set your mind to."
Willie challenged himself to learn American Sign Language so he could communicate with others by feeling their hands.
Willie, who was still living in his childhood bedroom in his folks' home, longed for independence, but wasn't sure how to achieve it.
His answer came when an acquaintance told him about Spruce Manor, an apartment community in Jacksonville, Illinois, that is run by Volunteers of America of Illinois. Spruce Manor is specifically designed for people with disabilities.
With a home of his own and the independence he longed for, Willie is once again Mr. Popular. His signing is improving every day and his sense of humor is a hit with the Manor's staff and his fellow residents. “God has truly guided me here," Willie said. “I’m able to take care of my own business. I’m living life my own way now–Willie style."
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