By Seth Burdine, Satisfaction Surveyor and Center Receptionist
My name is Seth Burdine. I am 32 years old. I was born on March 19th, 1981 and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I was born prematurely and after cataracts surgery, I was diagnosed as legally blind. I went to special schools from Easter Seals to public schools. I tested as mentally retarded when I did not pass my entrance test in grade school. I was put in special education classes and was made fun of because of my vision impairment.
My home life was weird. My mom was an alcoholic, and my dad left me when I was five years old. When I was twelve years old, a man in my family hurt me. I felt shame and guilt too. I felt lonely a lot and sought out friends to fill that lonely hole inside. I turned to school for comfort. I loved school because it was a place to learn and I felt happy there. They gave me large print books to read. Acting also brings me comfort and joy. I wanted to join the choir and drama class in school but my teacher said no. They did not want to adapt their program to meet my visual needs. Through the help of my math teacher, I volunteered and performed in a small community theater. She would also take me to musicals.
In 1992, I went to the Overbrook School for the Blind. There, I got to learn about Helen Keller, participated in sports, choir and many other activities. Then, my mother moved to Maryland in 1999, and I began attending Maryland School for the Blind. Through the help of one of my teachers, Mrs. Darden, I got a job at Golden Corral as a salad bar attendant. I graduated from the Maryland School for the Blind and did some volunteer jobs. Soon after, my mother got sick, and I went from group home to group home.
Then, in 2012, I found The Arc Baltimore. I have various jobs. I work the telephone at their center in Woodlawn two days a week and at their center in Seton Business Park as a substitute. In addition, I shred documents and survey individuals with disabilities for The Arc Baltimore’s Satisfaction Survey. The survey allows people to rate their level of services they receive from The Arc Baltimore.
I recently completed my GED test and found out that I successfully completely the course. I will receive my diploma in a few weeks. I have a girlfriend. I can independently get around in the community through Mobility services, and have my own apartment. At The Arc Baltimore I feel that people really care about me. I feel loved and have the life I have been longing for.
I hope this will encourage others who read my life story that they too can come from darkness into light.
Upon reading Seth’s blog post, Jamie Costello from ABC2 News reached out to Seth. See the full clip of Seth’s interview with Jamie.