Irene is a 72-year-old poet who can no longer write down her beautiful stanzas. Due to Parkinson’s disease, her steady hand quivers to the point where her words are lost on the page.
The South Carolina native eagerly listened to her brother recite the words of great literary minds like Robert Frost. She dedicated her life to breathing life into written word for future generations in low income areas of her home state.
The loss of her ability to write comes at an important time for Irene. The historic Mather School in South Carolina’s Technical College of the Lowcountry will celebrate its 150 year celebration. Her dream is to commemorate her alma mater with a heartfelt poem that encapsulates its influence on the African-American community.
Mathers was created for the daughters of freed slaves in the late 1860s. The retired English teacher of 19 years wants to use her passion to give a voice to women of the past, present and future.
“I want to create and record memories, express feelings and share my dreams. I want to share my love of words; their power to heal, inspire and connect people,” she said.
Her Resident Programs Director at Brookdale Senior Living reached out to Colorado based non-profit Wish of a Lifetime for help. The organization provided her with a voice activated computer in order to craft her poem.
Leaders at the Mathers School heard her story and were inspired to invite her to campus. They hosted Irene for Founder Day weekend during the annual luncheon where her grandchildren read her work.
“I am not letting Parkinson’s win. I am living a full life while facing obstacles and showing other people there are ways around obstacles that can get in the way,” Irene says about her situation.