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Breaking Down Barriers with a little help from the Blind

October 3, 2012

Last week we were honored to receive a certificate from the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind recognizing the Landmarks Orchestra for our commitment and exemplary partnership on behalf of the 2012 internship program. While we were delighted to receive this recognition it is we who should be thanking them.

This summer, through their 2012 internship program, the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind provided Landmarks with one of our most wonderful interns. Virginia Walden, Ginnie, came on staff in May of this year, just before our busy summer season began. Ginnie is legally blind, but she did not let that stop her from becoming a vital part of the team. She is sharp as a tack and was always eager to provide assistance in whatever way she could. She even took on the task of single-handedly producing all of our braille and large print programs for the summer. She was a Saint to bear with us through that process (there were often last minute changes).

Some of our staff shared their fondest memories of Ginnie:

Executive director, Harron Ellenson, reflected on a moment when Ginnie, who uses a cane, was providing assistance to a sighted patron. “It just warmed my heart,” Ellenson says, “but that was Ginnie. She was always ready, willing and able to help.”

I remember when I first had the opportunity to work with Ginnie, it was at the Landmarks Orchestra gala at Sanders theatre. I was unloading equipment from my car and Ginnie jumped at the opportunity to help. On the way into the building there were stairs as well as a handicapped ramp. I walked up the ramp for the convenience. Ginnie took the stairs. From that moment on she was always an inspiration to me to work harder and to appreciate the little things in life” — Laura Jennings, Account Manager/Volunteer Coordinator

Ryan Collins, a BU student who interned with us this summer recalled Ginnie running to the aid of interns who were having trouble setting up their pop-up tent. He also remembers her sense of humor fondly.

Our CFO, Michelle Major could not immediately pick out any particular memory as being the best. She says, “Ginnie was just awesome. I was especially impressed by the way she interacted with people at the shell; she was the first to jump up and help anybody, she talked to everybody, she was wonderful with our handicapped patrons. One night there was a 14-year-old who was blind and attended the concert with his caregiver. Ginnie got talking with him and they just chatted forever. She gave him advice and really worked hard to make sure his concert experience was super positive. She has a great presence.”

Cassie Albee, Assistant Account Manager, said she enjoyed how comfortable Ginnie was joking around with everyone. “My favorite memory of Ginnie was during the longwood concert. She was flinging rubber bands that almost hit me and Ceylon, it sounds silly but it was just very funny. I liked that we could joke around a lot and she would even make fun of the fact that she couldn’t see well. She just never made it a thing to bring her down

My best memory of Ginnie is meeting her at our first Landmarks staff meeting last May,” said summer intern Tori Donahue. “She was so enthusiastic and really supported the orchestra’s mission to provide music and programs for everyone, regardless of their financial or disability status. She had all of us–especially Harron–intrigued with her Braille keyboard and computer at the meeting and was willing to answer any questions about what it’s like to be blind in such a busy city. I still miss talking to Ginnie on the phone and hearing her cheerful voice.

Landmarks would like to give a huge thanks to Ginnie Walden! And thank you Massachusetts Commission for the Blind both for your recognition and for providing us with such a great addition to our summer staff.


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