Miller Family Legacy

In Memory of Arnold “Arnie” Miller
Earlier this year, we mourned the loss of a long-time board member, Arnie Miller. His mother, Esther Miller, served on the board of directors when Friedman Place was still The Kagan Home for the Blind. After she died in the 1980’s Arnie took over her role. For more than 30 years, Arnie saw Friedman Place through many transitions including moving into our current facility.

Late Board Member, Arnold Miller

Arnie was thoughtful, a good listener, and a loving brother to his sister, Roberta. He was born in and lived out his life here in Chicago, attended Lane Tech high school, worked at Bennett Brothers, and had a passion for the opera and playing basket ball. Before he passed, in a final act of love and caring for his sister, who has lived with blindness since their youth, Arnie entrusted Friedman Place as a supportive home for his sister to live. Roberta is now continuing her family’s legacy at Friedman Place as a new resident and Arnie wouldn’t be surprised that she is fitting right in.

Arnold Miller's sister and current resident

Introducing Roberta
Roberta always wondered if she would have done better in school had her vision loss, due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, been diagnosed earlier. However, once diagnosed just after completing high school, she quickly flourished. She loved learning Braille and picked it up quickly. She still enjoys reading her Braille magazines and books, and makes use of a Braille calendar. In 2012, a surgery in Roberta’s left eye saved some of her vision and prevented her from becoming totally blind.

Roberta first met her husband, Alan, at a dance hosted by the Kagan Home. After dating for four years, they married in 1976 and moved into their condo at Belmont and Sheridan. Although Roberta and Alan were both visually impaired, they managed to live an independent life together. Roberta cooked and kept house and Alan could read finer print, which was helpful for going through mail and paying bills. To support them, Alan found a good job doing office work for the CTA. Roberta remembers getting around on the CTA buses. “It was a lot of fun!” she remembers of the experience. Back in those days, they had to rely on the driver and other passengers to call out stops. Once a week, Roberta’s brother, Arnie, would come over and help the couple with tasks that were more challenging to do without sight.

Roberta and other residents at Dr. Huss's play
Roberta and other residents enjoy watching podiatrist Dr. Huss in a community theater performance

When Alan passed away in 2014, Roberta lived on her own for a couple of years before moving in with her brother, Arnie. They were close and one of their favorite things to do together was enjoy opera. Arnie had a grand collection of opera music. According to Roberta, he knew all the technical stuff and she just enjoyed listening to the music with him. Her favorite piece is the second act opening to Mozart’s Magic Flute. Standing at 4’6″, Roberta still laughs when she remembers hugging her brother; Arnie would have to sit in a chair to be at Roberta’s level. Today, Roberta is thriving at Friedman Place and especially enjoys the bingo and crosswords activities. In recent years, trouble with her leg prevented Roberta from walking much, but at Friedman Place she has kept up with her leg exercises and now moves freely around the facility without assistance. With her improved mobility she looks forward to attending outings to the botanical gardens and showing off her thrill seeking side at our annual trip to Six Flags Great America this summer.

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Friedman Place Welcomes a Furry Resident

Friedman Place Welcomes a Furry Resident!

resident and her guide dog walking outside
Tina and Cassidy out for a walk on a beautiful spring day.

Please join us in congratulating Friedman Place Resident Tina and her new guide dog Cassidy. The pair recently graduated guide dog training together and returned home from California just in time to enjoy walks in the lovely Chicago spring weather. Cassidy is a two year old medium-sized black lab and bred especially to be a guide dog. A loving couple from California, who have trained many other dogs to be guide dogs, raised Cassidy. The couple befriended Tina and attended the graduation. At the same time Tina worked hard to recover from the stroke that caused her blindness and learned orientation and mobility skills at Friedman Place in order to be eligible for a guide dog, Cassidy trained equally as hard to be eligible to support someone’s independence. These two were truly meant for each other and are already best friends. Tina said, “At Friedman Place I learned how to feel more safe, secure and confident while inside, but I felt that a guide dog would help me conquer my fear of being outside alone, especially at night.” It took Tina almost a year from the beginning her application to her acceptance into the program. She was grateful to Friedman Place staff that supported her through the process. We are so excited to add another guide dog to our Friedman Place family. Currently, three residents and two of our staff members have guide dogs. We are proud to offer a dog exercise area and cover the costs of food and grooming for resident guide dogs.

In order for Tina to be accepted into the guide dog school, she had to be very proficient in white cane use. She had to submit a video of her walking outside with her white cane, crossing intersections, and using public transportation. The reason for this is that a guide dog won’t teach you how to be independent, it is just there for support as you go about your day. She filled out long questionnaire and also had to video tape her responses for the school to determine if she would be a good fit for a guide dog. One of Tina’s great joys has been the dogs in her life. However, she was devastated when she had to re-home her dogs after the stroke. The pair are quite happy to be together. Tina hopes she inspires others to do whatever it takes to reach as much independence as they desire, “You just have to keep at it.”

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