Musician, motivator, mentor, man of faith, despite his challenges and being legally blind since birth, an Awendaw man has dedicated his life to helping others. We introduce you to our Everyday Hero Mr. Leroy Smith, a man who has sight of his life’s purpose and sees with his heart.
Music is one of the joys of life for 62-year-old Mr. Leroy Smith, a lifelong member of Union A.M.E . Church in Awendaw. He’s a trustee and sings on four choirs. Family and fiends call him Rocky. Rocky was born with the eye disease glaucoma, and has lived with blindness all of his life. “I had many eye operations. I know how it is when you don’t have help around you. I’ve always lived mainly by myself. You can’t be sitting down and feel sorry for yourself,” Smith says.
Smith is vice president of the Charleston Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind. He says, “I try to help the newly blind.” He also attends classes at the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, where he strives to help others. Rocky says, “Some of them become blind. all out of whack in a way, afraid to get around, afraid to do things. These things I had to learn on my own. So the things I encourage them with, you got to do it for yourself, can’t depend on others, lean on others. If they’re not there, then you’re lost. I try to tell them to do what they can do for them self. I don’t want them to be lost in this world. I want them to have pride in themselves. I don’t want them to give up, being blind. I want them to do more.”
Brooks Harken with the Association for the Blind and Visually impaired says they offer classes to help build independence and skills for future employment opportunities. “Leroy is one that is kind of a father figure for our clients. He’s one that helps clients get on and off the bus, helps them around the office,” Harken says. He’s the person they go to to speak with to gain confidence in themselves, and also to learn from. He’s been visually impaired for quite sometime. For someone who is newly blind or visually impaired, it’s great to have that reference point, who can give you insight about how they’ve dealt with it. Everyone wants that reassurance, and that comfort and I think Leroy provides that to many of our clients.”
Mr. Smith does face his own challenges. His home needs repairs, and his yard needs attention as well. He also faces transportation hurdles. Harken says, “Leroy lives in Awendaw, so it is not something close. With public transportation, there are two systems Teleride and Tri-county Link and he uses both services to get here. He leaves his home at 7am in the morning, very long ride for him to be here all day. I think that’s one of the big challenges he faces, but he overcomes it, and he’s positive when he gets here.”
Through it all, Rocky remains encouraged and grateful. He continues to shine and lead. “God leads me. You ever hear me sing that song in church, I’m going to take the Lord with me everywhere I go, because I’m going to need him.”
Mr. Smith is currently raising funds to attend the National Federation of the Blind Convention in Florida in July.
Here is the tease ahead promoting the full story on Mr. Smith.
Rocky’s gospel performances: