Braille Monitor                                                    June 2008

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Debra Bonde of Seedlings Books Honored

 

Debra Bonde poses with a photograph of her daughter Anna in front of a Seedlings Braille embosser. Two print/Braille children’s books are visible on top of the embosser.From the Editor: April Enderton is president of the Des Moines Chapter of the NFB of Iowa. She recently sent the following note and Associated Press story:

This article came over the AP wire on April 16, 2008, and I thought it would be of great interest to Monitor readers. It features Debra Bonde, founder and director of Seedlings Braille Books for Children and a true champion of Braille literacy.

I discovered Seedlings about three years ago. I was telling an acquaintance that my two-year-old daughter Alyssa Joy and I loved sharing books, but we were limited on the books we could read because I need books in Braille. She got hold of a catalog from Seedlings Braille Books for Children. To my delight the books were affordable, and there were hundreds of books from which to choose. A few months ago I happened to mention to Debra that Alyssa Joy's copy of Ten Little Ladybugs had gone missing. We had searched high and low for days, I said, but we were unable to locate the book. A couple of days later we received a brand new copy in the mail, compliments of Seedlings. When I wrote to Debra to thank her, she said that she couldn't bear the thought of my little girl being without her book.

In February I went to Alyssa Joy's kindergarten class to celebrate her sixth birthday and talk to the children about blindness. The highlight of my presentation was my reading Birthday Monsters by Sandra Boynton, a Seedlings book.
Last Fall Debra Bonde and Seedlings received an award from Mannington Mills Flooring, Stand on a Better World. The contest allowed people to vote online for the candidate of their choice. I did my best to spread the word, and, much to my delight, Debra Bonde was proclaimed the winner. Debra was honored in a ceremony and presented with a check for $10,000, which will be used for Brailling more books. I hope you will agree that this article is Monitor material.

We certainly do. We have excerpted it below to include only the general material and the story of Debra Bonde’s family’s experience. Here it is:

Grieving Mothers Create Living Tributes to Their Children
by Hillary Rhodes

The first Mother's Day after a drunk driver killed Debra Bonde's nineteen-year-old daughter was particularly difficult, for obvious reasons. Worse, the holiday fell that year on Anna Bonde's birthday--the first one she didn't get to celebrate. Since then Bonde has found solace--and distraction--in the work she does running a nonprofit organization helping other children.

For women who have had to endure the death of a child, channeling grief into good works, community service, or acts of charity, particularly for children, can help manage the agony of mourning. Helping others can be an effective way for grieving mothers to cope with their pain, says clinical psychologist and grief expert Therese Rando, based in Warwick, Rhode Island. "It's a human reaction that, if we can help others when we've been through adversity, that tends to help us," says Rando, author of Grieving: How to Go on Living When Someone You Love Dies. Turning around and helping the community can give meaning to a terrible event, memorialize the person who died, and offer relief from the powerlessness parents might have felt to prevent the death of their child, Rando says. "It allows them to move from a position of being a victim of this terrible loss to being empowered to do something for someone else," she says.

Anna Bonde was an actress, a dancer, a poet, and an A-student. She and four college friends were hit by a drunk driver going the wrong way on the Interstate near Springfield, Illinois, in the wee hours of St. Patrick's Day 2001. They were on their way to New Orleans for spring break, switching drivers every two hours, drinking only coffee and soda, and wearing their seatbelts. Three of the five were killed, and the drunk driver is serving a ten-year sentence.

Mother's Day, birthdays, and other holidays are "tinged with sadness," says Bonde, who recalls the wrenching moment when a policeman came to her door and said that Anna had "expired."

"It's always there," Bonde says. "It's always there under the surface. But you learn to manage it better as the years go by. ... If I can just get busy helping other kids, then pretty soon, I'm OK." Debra J. Bonde is director of Seedlings Braille Books for Children, (800) 777-8552; <www.seedlings.org>. "Placing a book in a child's hands is like planting a seed."

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