VILONIA, Ark. — Throughout the pandemic, World Services for the Blind in Arkansas is the only training center in the country that remained open for the blind. One woman says her life was saved because they stayed open. 

Joanne Hancock was a full time LPN when in 2014 a tornado tore through Vilonia as she was working in her garden  

“Life was good until I lost my eyesight. My whole world went down,” Joanne Hancock said.

Joanne was suddenly blind. She went through many tragedies, including her family leaving her in the woods for dead.  

“He took me out in the woods. I didn’t even have a cane. I listened to sounds and listened for my dogs to get my way back to my back door,” Hancock said.

When she got back to the house she was alone with her dog named Precious. The utilities were off and she lived on bottled water and cold cans of green beans. She was getting very sick

“I had a bible. I still have it. I opened it up and I said ‘God I know you’re there for me. Please don’t let me and Precious die like this,” Hancock said.

That night an officer arrived at her door because her neighbors were worried.

“I told that sheriff I was hungry. My dog and I are hungry,” Hancock said.

Joanne found the help she needed through World Services for the Blind.

“I got out of that car. I took a deep breath. I was free, Hancock said.  

She received a scholarship that taught her how to be independent, how to work and how to live life to the fullest while blind.

“They showed me how I can be me again. I love my life and nobody can take it away from me again,” Hancock said.

Joanne got a job at IFB Solutions, a company that makes clothing for the military. She says it’s a dream job.

“I love my job because I like to sew. I sewed when I was younger,” Hancock said.

She’s beyond thankful for World Services for the Blind stayed open during the pandemic.

“I was so blessed and thankful I was able to stay there. I wouldn’t have had a place to go if they closed  and WSB means the world to me,” Hancock said.

And last month she did what she never imagined would be possible. She moved into her own apartment. She’s independent and happier than ever.

“I was told I would never be loved because I was blind, and now I am. I have lots of friends,” Hancock said.