Rosalinda Mendiola has been the heart and soul of the teaching program at the Blind Children's Center in Koreatown for the past 25 years.
The non-profit school accepts no government funding and is free to students. As its only blind teacher, Mendiola shares a special connection with its 100 visually impaired kids.
"I love children. I love being a positive change in their lives," she said.
Mendiola sees only shadows but doesn't use a cane at school because she's memorized every step. She uses a computer that types in braille and in large print and wears specially designed telescopic glasses to read.
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And she's a role model for her students -- Mendiola has a college degree, a long teaching career and has published a book being blind since birth.
Mendiola was born with albinism, a genetic defect that results in a loss of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. Two of her eight siblings also have albinism but her parents had no money for doctors and no patience for limitations being placed on their kids.
"My mom used to say, 'Wash the dishes.' And I'd say, 'I can't see,'" Mendiola said. "She'd say, 'Wash them twice so you make sure you got everything out.'"
She was bullied relentlessly as a child and found solace in sports. She traveled as a weightlifter with the U.S. Association of Blind Athletes. She eventually graduated from Cal State Northridge with a Child Development degree and went on to write a book about how to teach visually impaired students.
Director of Education Dr. Fernanda Armenta-Schmitt says the students and Blinparents adore Mendiola.
"They've always deeply loved Rosalinda. I think it's just her joyous heart. I love being with Rosalinda ... there's just a giggle in her heart that brings joy to every moment," Armenta-Schmitt said.
Mendiola says her greatest joy comes from inspiring the children at the Blind Children's Center never to let their disability define them.
The Blind Children's Center operates with the help of private and corporate donations. If you'd like to help click here: https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/blindchildrenscenter