Seeing Chances to Conquer by Susan Kreifels ********** From the Editor: The following story first appeared in the April 20, 1998, edition of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Nani Fife is President of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii. this is what the article said: ********** Nani Fife often sees welfare recipients who want to give up their search for a job. But she doesn't let them.
"When they want to quit, I say, 'Wait a minute, if I can do it, so can you,'" Fife said.
Fife knows about obstacles in life, but she treats them as challenges to be conquered. And for that spirit and determination, the Lions Club chose her as Hawaii's Outstanding Blind Person of the Year for 1998.
Fife has been legally blind since birth. But that did not stop her from getting a degree. Nor did age. She started college in her thirties after her third and last child began going to school.
"I wanted to do something different with my life," said Fife, a grandmother of four. "I wanted to help people."
At McKinley High School she attended special education classes rather than being put into regular classes. That made it even more difficult at college, because she had to start with basic classes in math and English. But with the help of transcribed books and students who volunteered to take notes for her in class, she earned a bachelor's degree in public administration in 1986.
"Try listening to Accounting 201 and 202 on a cassette tape," Fife laughed. "I don't know how I ever did it. I couldn't see the blackboard even if I stood right in front of it. But I always looked at life as not having barriers but challenges."
"Once you overcome a challenge, it gives you that good feeling of success."
She passes that attitude along to many in Hawaii. Fife has been with the Work Hawaii Hoala Program for seven years, using a closed-circuit TV, special large-print computer software, and an adapted computer system. The city program provides job-readiness services to welfare recipients.
Outside of her job Fife is the chairwoman for the Statewide Independent Living Council, president for ten years of the National Federation of the Blind of Hawaii, a board member of the Hawaii State Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, and chairwoman of the Ho'opono Advisory Board.
"Nani Fife is an inspiration to others with visual impairments and exemplifies the commitment that Ho'opono and the Lions have in assisting blind persons in attaining their goals," said Shirley Sasaki, community services coordinator at Ho'opono, a rehabilitation center for the blind and visually impaired at the Department of Human Services.
Fife says she just likes helping people. "I like to make a positive difference in people's lives. It gives me satisfaction that, whenever I can, I help give people a second chance." **********