Meet Dominican Republic native Omar Rodriquez Taveras.
Taveras was poked in his left eye when he was seven years old. Following several surgeries, both his left eye and right eye became severely infected. By the age of 12, he was completely blind.
Undeterred, Taveras attended a special school for youth with low vision in the Dominican Republic where – much like his colleagues at Alphapointe – he acquired essential skills necessary for him to be successful. Taveras earned college degrees in psychology and law and became an international advocate for people who are blind as a representative in the Latin America Blind Union.
On a trip to the United States in 2013, Taveras met and fell in love with his future wife – also a Dominican Republic native who moved to the U.S. when she was 15. They eventually married in 2017. During the next few years, Taveras split his time going back and forth between the U.S. and the Dominican Republic because he had a good job in his native country and was supporting his three children.
With the promise of a new job, in early 2020, he permanently relocated to the U.S. Then, the pandemic struck. Without employment, Taveras didn’t know what to do. Then, he remembered a friend worked for a non-profit organization called Alphapointe in Queens, N.Y., where a variety of jobs are available for those who are blind in light manufacturing, administration, call center services and website accessibility compliance. Every staff member is given the resources and training to meet the demands of the job and the skills for upward mobility.
After a quick phone call, the rest, as they say, is history. One of hundreds of team members employed by Alphapointe who are blind, Taveras assembles pilot relief bags used by American military personnel – something that makes him incredibly proud. Not yet fluent in English, Taveras works every day to improve his language skills. He plans to attend a U.S. university and earn his master’s degree so he can help people with vision loss as a psychologist.
Out of necessity, Taveras essentially restarted his life in the U.S. With Alphapointe’s help, he will soon be doing what he aspires to do – helping people with vision loss!