Doing it Differently – Our NIB Employee of the Year Nominees
Honoring VisionCorps’ NIB Employee of the Year Nominees – Cheryl Kindig and Gina Marie Natoli
By: Ed Gruver, VisionCorps
Cheryl Kindig and Gina Marie Natoli have never let their disabilities define them. That much is evidenced by the fact that Kindig, an administrative assistant in the Rehabilitation Department and Youth Services in Lancaster, and Natoli, a Contract Closeout specialist in Contract Management Services in Philadelphia, are award winners for VisionCorps’ Employees of the Year and nominees for the prestigious national Milton J. Samuelson Award and Peter J. Salmon Award, respectively. “I’ve pretty much adapted to a way of living,” said Kindig, who was born with congenital cataracts. “I didn’t know what it was like to see any better.”
Her tasks at VisionCorps include braille transcriptionist and printing out client newsletters and local community menus, teaching iDevices to employees and clients, participating in community education programs and completing all paperwork for VisionCorps’ Low Vision Occupational Therapy.
To fulfill her tasks, she uses Zoomtext and VoiceOver for her iPhone. Kindig attended Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia for 10 years before transferring to McCaskey High School. “It was tough making the transition to mainstream,” she recalled. “I had some bad experiences. They (other students) made fun of me because of my thick glasses; cruel stuff.”
She joined the Red Tornado track team for two years and it proved beneficial in that she won two second-place ribbons and a third-place ribbon while representing the Lancaster County Association for the Blind in a tournament for blind athletes. Kindig, who went on to graduate 14th out of a class of 78 at Zion Bible Institute, believes she was meant to go to McCaskey, since it was there that she met two friends in particular – sisters Kathy and Christine Dearborn. Cheryl and her husband Jerry, who works in VisionCorps’ Enterprise Group, have made several trips to visit Christine and her husband Nino in Italy.
Along with their love of travel – they’re making their 12th trip to Italy in September – Cheryl and Jerry love working with children. Cheryl has done part-time work in the preschool at Lancaster County Association for the Blind and she and Jerry have taught Sunday school classes and currently coach third- and fifth-graders to participate in the Junior Bible Quiz Bowl. “We love kids,” she said. “We never had any of our own, but we love spoiling everyone else’s.”
Cheryl and Jerry are active in other ways, including singing in their community chorus, One-A-Chord, which represents 72 churches.
Natoli enjoys being involved in her community as well. She is active in Meetup.com, a social media group for the blind and visually impaired. Among her hobbies are Beep Baseball and Bowling. Born with Retinopathy of Prematurity (R.O.P), Natoli has been legally blind since birth. She attributes her success to her family’s love and support.
“My family was very supportive of my visual impairment growing up,” she said. “They didn’t see me as having a visual impairment, just saw me as their daughter, Gina.”
Natoli also credits the Ability One program that provided an opportunity to demonstrate her abilities as an educated and independent woman. She received her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Kutztown University, and has for the first time acquired her own apartment and is living with her guide dog, Franco.
Her work includes analysis of contract terms and conditions, reconciliation of payments, preparation of administrative contract modifications and vendor reach out. For the past two years she has been a top performer in contract closeouts and has successfully executed more than 2,000 contract actions
with an error rate of less than .5 percent.
Natoli also participates in training new employees and her ability to lead by example is key to her success.
“Growing up, I would always say I can do anything a sighted person can
do, I just do it a little differently, that’s all.”