Meet Donna Silba, “as with any challenge, if you work hard you can achieve what you think is impossible.
Donna Silba, Material Handler, Distribution Services Unit, states “life brings many challenges, but with determination and drive, they can be overcome.” Donna was born in Middleborough, Massachusetts a township near Plymouth, which was founded by the Pilgrims in 1620. As an infant, she was diagnosed with congenital cataracts, a lens opacity present at birth, and she had several surgeries to mitigate vision loss. However, her eyesight was significantly impaired, and she was diagnosed as legally blind.
Donna attended Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, MA. Perkins was the first school in the United States for people who are blind. Both Helen Keller and her teacher, Anne Sullivan, were Perkins educated. At Perkins Donna learned to use braille in early childhood as well as learning to access some print material. Donna also acquired blindness adaptive skills and a first-rate core education. Donna says, “that these skills gave me the confidence to go out in the world and be self-reliant.”
In 1965, Donna was introduced to the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and became a life-long member. She is a steadfast advocate for the rights of blind children and adults, and she is a mentor and supporter of persons experiencing vision loss. Donna has served as a board member and officer for both Local and State Chapters.
Donna and her husband moved from Massachusetts to Wisconsin and managed a family owned vacation rental business there. Wisconsin receives a large amount of regular snowfall averaging around 40 inches in the southern portions with up to 160 inches annually in the Lake Superior region. After Several years in Wisconsin, Donna and her husband decided that they had had enough of cold winters and talked about relocating to warm Arizona. In 1993, they did indeed relocate to Arizona.
Once in Arizona, Donna applied for and received Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services. As part of her VR plan, Donna received business management training and other services including work adjustment services from the AIB Rehabilitation Services Unit (RSU). Through RSU, Donna learned about AIB’s new distribution Services Unit (DSU) and decided to take a chance and apply.
Donna was one the first five warehouse employees to come onboard when AIB began its Warehouse and Distribution unit in 1995. At AIB, she consistently does her best, and is a contributing member of the award-winning DSU team.
In her time with AIB, Donna said that “I have seen a lot of positive changes throughout the organization.” AIB empowers its employees to succeed in the workplace and in life by providing proper training and technology that is needed to compete in today’s workplace. Donna stated that “the screen reading software installed on my computer enables me to perform all the functions of my job independently.”
Recently, Donna was experiencing additional vision loss. Surgeries to correct the decline were unsuccessful and complications left her without eyesight.
Because of her early onset of her eye disease and her experience working at AIB, Donna was able to overcome the trauma of vision loss rather quickly. “As with any challenge, if you work hard you can achieve what you think is impossible,” said Donna.
While many in similar circumstances would have retired and surrendered to the safety and comfort of home, Donna’s indomitable spirit gives her the strength to overcome her new challenges and remain employed with AIB and to stay active in the community.