Meet Keela and Edward Alonzo
Keela Alonzo was born without corneas in her eyes and eventually lost all her sight at 12 years old. Doctors told her and her family that her condition was related to Peters Anomaly, which is typically a disorder of the eye that involves thinning and clouding of the cornea and attachment of the iris to the cornea, causing blurred vision.
When she was 18 years old, she decided to get eye prosthetics because she was in too much pain and she wanted to make her own decisions. “It was an adjustment to transfer to the prosthetics, but it did feel better. I was very relieved when it was all said and done,” said Keela.
Keela was born and raised in a small-town called Rainell, West Virginia. When describing life in Rainell, Keela recalls it not being accessible and there were no employment opportunities.
“I had to depend on family members and friends for basic things like groceries and rides to places, and I could tell they got tired of helping me all the time. It was a big issue during the COVID pandemic,” said Keela. “Both of my kids have disabilities, and we were in and out of hospitals often. There was no Uber, Instacart, and most importantly, no work opportunities.”
While in West Virginia, Keela met her current husband, Edward, who is also blind and works at Envision Dallas. They have been married for around three years and made a connection through similar life heartbreaks. “My first husband and Edward’s first wife had both passed away,” Keela shared. “We were both kind of grieving and got on a Blind Singles and Friends group on Facebook where we met and befriended.” Now, Edward and Keela are parents of three kids from previous marriages, ranging from 15 to 21 years old.
Edward and Keela Alonzo both joined the Envision Dallas team in October 2021. They learned about Envision through their friend John Conly, who is totally blind and has been working on the Envision Dallas team for more than 20 years. Envision paid for Keela and Edward’s big move from small-town Rainell, West Virginia to Dallas, Texas.
Edward was born and raised in Amarillo, Texas for several years. He felt comfortable moving back to his home state. “We weren’t getting anywhere where we were living, and realized we needed a change,” Edward said.
All employment opportunities at Envision and Envision Dallas start with a work trial to make sure it’s a good fit for both the employee and the employer. While Keela remembers being overwhelmed during the work trial, she was excited about the potential to provide for her family.
“The work trial in sewing was an adjustment that I had to get used to. I was a stay-at-home mom for 20 years, so it was slightly overwhelming,” said Keela. “Living in Dallas was very different from a small town. However, it was exciting to know that I was making something for the U.S. military – it makes me proud that I can do that. The fact that I can provide for my family and the prospect of that, inspired me to feel like this is something I can do.”
Keela now works in sewing and started out on the eTool team making collapsible shovel bags for the military but was recently moved to the ACU trouser production team. Keela has her guide dog, Jacqueline, at her side at all times. Edward started out in manufacturing, making eyeglass cases for the U.S. Air Force. In September of 2023, he was promoted to an Assistive Technology Trainer.
“We get up early every day and go to work to make a living, which is the example we show our three kids,” Edward detailed.
Keela has also benefited from orientation and mobility (O&M) lessons from Envision Dallas’s O&M specialist, Keila. Both Edward and Keela participate in bingo and sculpture nights at Envision Dallas as well. Employee engagement and community support is a key aspect of the culture at Envision and Envision Dallas – in addition to unique employment opportunities.
“I am very thankful that this is something that has been offered to us. I am very appreciative," said Keela. “For someone who has never had work experience – this is a great place to start. It has built up my confidence because so many people before told me, ‘You’re blind – you can’t do this or do that, you can only do certain jobs.’ Now there are many opportunities and a variety of jobs at Envision Dallas.”