Robby’s Story

Robby Holmes was just 19 years old when a BB pellet forever changed how he would view the world. Though his is a story with its fair share of pain and difficulty, it is one worth telling for it is also a story of perseverance, forgiveness, empowerment, and community. As is often the case with tales that bear repeating, degrees of chance and circumstance have conspired to create a story with deeper meaning and a more satisfying resolution involving both men, a new non-profit organization, the local community, and Lions VisionGift.

15 years ago Robby was a passenger in his friend’s car, driving through his home town of Ida Grove, Idaho when a BB pellet, fired from the side of the road by a young man unknown to him, struck Robby’s right eye. The damage done by the ricocheting projectile necessitated multiple surgeries in the intervening years, starting with his first cornea transplant and leading up to his recent successful operation this past summer for the glaucoma which developed 8 years ago.

Never one to take the “poor me” philosophy on the events of those days, Robby has harnessed a natural enthusiasm for life and poured it into his passions of music and community. His gregarious nature and kind spirit are immediately evident upon meeting him and have helped Robby become a respected member of his local community, through his community music promotion efforts. Given the impact of his work for local artists, it is of no surprise that his community responded to his developing plight surrounding paying for additional eye surgery.

Read More +

Brother James Bartos

Brother James Bartos of Mt. Angel Abbey knows a thing or two about keeping faith.  When you make your first vows at the age of 18, and celebrate more than 50 years of service to the community and church, you build up a catalogue of experiences that inform your world view.  But even a man of Brother James’ convictions can wrestle with the implications of failing vision and he remembers after being diagnosed with Fuch’s Dystrophy; thinking to himself – in his typically restrained manner – “You’re going to go blind.”

It’s hard for Brother James to pinpoint when his vision began failing him; the progression was so gradual that he just made concessions without even realizing it.  The font on his Psalm handouts kept getting larger and larger –12 point font grew to 14, to 16.  He took to wearing tinted glasses.  When he told people about his difficulty driving at night in the rain, they just said, “Yeah, it’s like that for me too,” so James thought this was all just a part of normal aging.

Among his many other roles at the Abbey, including ministry with the church’s elderly clergy, Brother James is the community’s locksmith as well.  With more than six hundred lock sets between the monastery, the library, the school, and resident areas – a great majority of them intricate old-fashioned mechanisms – Brother James had his hands full.  He remembers noticing how much shinier, and fuzzier the lock components seemed to be; he had slowly developed  a great deal of difficulty pinning locks – something he’d done many, many times over the years.

Read More +