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Helen Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968)





 "I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door."

In 1971, the Board of Directors of Lions Clubs International declared that henceforth June 1 would be remembered as "Helen Keller Day." Lions around the world implement sight-related service projects on Helen  


Helen Adams Keller (June 27, 1880 – June 1, 1968) was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. The story of how Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan, broke through the isolation imposed by a near complete lack of language, allowing the girl to blossom as she learned to communicate, has become known worldwide through the dramatic depictions of the play and film The Miracle Worker.


 


Keller's Personal Crusade In 1915, Keller joined the first Board of Directors of the Permanent Blind Relief War Fund, later known as the American Braille Press.
In 1924, the young woman started the Helen Keller Endowment Fund. In the same year, Keller joined the staff of the American Foundation for the Blind as a counselor on national and international relations.

On June 30, 1925, Keller addressed the Lions Clubs International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA. She challenged Lions to become "knights of the blind in this crusade against darkness.” She said, "I am your opportunity. I am knocking at your door."

In 1946, Keller became a counselor on international relations for the American Foundation for Overseas Blind (a sister organization to the American Foundation for the Blind). She traveled to 35 countries.
Helen Keller Memorial Park
In 1971, the Lions of Alabama dedicated the Helen Keller Memorial Park.  It is located on the grounds of Keller's birthplace which is known as Ivy Green. The focal point of the memorial is a bust of Keller with an engraved plaque which states, "I am your opportunity."

The Miracle Worker



Anne Sullivan Macy (1866-1936)
The remarkable woman whose life and teaching philosophy remain an inspiration to those who educate children who are visually impaired. In 2003, Anne Sullivan Macy was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame and the American Foundation for the Blind was privileged to receive a medal in her honor. She was a woman whose brilliance, passion, and tenacity enabled her to overcome a traumatic past. She became a model for others disadvantaged by their physical bodies, as well as by gender or class.

Anne was a pioneer in the field of education. Her work with Helen Keller became the blueprint for education of children who were blind, deaf-blind, or visually impaired that still continues today. Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) dubbed her a "miracle worker." However, Anne's personal story remains relatively unknown. Although some of her letters still exist, it is primarily through the eyes of others that we know her. Some time after she married John Albert Macy in 1905, the young wife burned her private journals for fear of what her husband might think of her if he should read them. Similarly, she did not want her correspondence to be kept after her death. But for historical purposes, materials were retained and the Helen Keller Archives at the American Foundation for the Blind contain some of her letters, prose, and verse. Other materials about Anne are located at the Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown, Massachusetts and the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts.


By nature she was a conceiver, a trail-blazer, a pilgrim of life's wholeness. So day by day, month after month, year in and year out, she labored to provide me with a diction and a voice sufficient for my service to the blind.
—Helen Keller, writing about Anne Sullivan




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For Harvard University, delivered before the Harvard University at Cambridge, Massachusetts (June 16, 1955)

While in India I saw a tree, the banyan, which resembles my life. Facing drought and other inclemencies of the weather, it yet finds ways to send out little shoots from its extremities, and they drop into the ground, take root and put on branches, leaves, flowers and fruit like the parent tree. My teacher's individuality was like the banyan. Her work for my development seemed to have no root or seed in human experience. Yet with faith and courage she created me as a little shoot which she trusted would fall into good soil and shape itself under her watchful eye as a normal human being. This thought thrills me with a fresh sense of the spiritual resources which she exemplified and which have the power to reorganize life in unexpected forms.Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
~ Helen Keller