Nesa Love

Nesa Reads

Nesa Reads

Once upon a time Nesa Love smiled shyly and made eye contact hesitantly. Years of being unable to read had taken their toll. And then God called her to attend CWJC, something she didn’t want to do at first.

She and Shirley Gossard, CWJC’s executive director, met at an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) celebration two years ago. Gossard attended the event to recruit students for the program. Nesa attended because she has learning disabilities, including Irlen Syndrome, which prevents the brain from processing visual contrasts very well.

Nesa says she acted rather rude to Gossard during that first meeting because anything having to do with learning and school reminded her of her painful history. People had labeled her lazy and treated her impatiently because of her inability to read, a fact she tried to hide. Only her mother, whose help she depended upon, knew her secret.

However God doesn’t give up up so easily.

Nesa and Gossard met again at the following year’s ADA event. Frustrated by Gossard’s insistence that CWJC could help her when she was convinced otherwise because of her inability to read, she blurted out to Gossard, “I can’t read! I can’t see letters printed on paper!”

To her amazement, Gossard, a retired elementary school teacher, was familiar with scotopic sensitivity, the type of sensitivity found in people diagnosed with Irlen Syndrome. She told Nesa that she believed CWJC could help her and that she believed she could find donors willing to help pay for the corrective lenses she needed if Nesa could raise half the funds.

Nesa applied and was accepted into the program.

She says she felt “terrible” her first day. “I was full of anxieties and was late that day,” she says. “It was a struggle to show up. I was sick to my stomach and didn’t want to be there.”

Because of her school history, she says she expected teachers to be impatient with her. There was one teacher in particular, “one who seemed like a teacher from the 60s,” she says, that she assumed she wouldn’t get along with. “She was the most compassionate,” Nesa says.

She says her fellow classmates were understanding, too. All of them helped read assignments to her so she could complete her work. “It was amazing they stepped up to help,” she says.

Nesa credits what she learned in her CWJC money management class as giving her the knowledge she needed to develop a budget and spend her money wisely. Before graduating from the program, she reached her goal of saving the necessary amount of money to purchase her glasses. She had to wait for a ride to Austin, though, where the diagnostician is located.

Her glasses arrived three weeks later.

“I was overwhelmed [after putting the glasses on for the first time],” she says. “I went to the post office bathroom, cried, and read signs on the wall and on the paper towel dispenser. I couldn’t speak for about an hour. I took a selfie and put it on Facebook. I didn’t understand until that day what I had missed in life. Colors were different. Blue is bluer. No wonder I was depressed! I’m reading. This is life altering! I don’t need to have secrets anymore.”

Nesa says she has gone from experiencing depression to becoming a thinker. “Differences can be a gift,” she says. “People haven’t been taught to turn disorders and disabilities into gifts.”

Nesa works as a sitter now, but plans to become an American Sign Language interpreter.