Childrey Honored with Martin Luther King Jr. Award

Childrey Honored with Martin Luther King Jr. Award

By Fritz Busch, Journal Staff Writer

(Editor’s Note:  The following article was published in the New Ulm Journal on January 16, 2007.  It contains some factual errors in organization names that I have corrected and enclosed in square brackets, but it is otherwise a good explanation of Charlene’s many activities and accomplishments that brought her this well-deserved award.)

A New Ulm woman was honored Monday at the Lind House for
her exceptional service to the visually impaired and dedication to
human rights principles like leading by example.

Charlene Childrey was awarded the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award
by Lee Johnson, Chairman of the New Ulm Human Rights Commission.

"Dr. Martin Luther King would be 78 years old today and what a
wonderful example of human rights his life was and his legacy is,"
Johnson told a standing-room-only crowd.

Childrey was nominated for the award by Marsha Eyrich and Jan
Dallenbach of the New Ulm Lions Club for her efforts to create the
Low-Vision Loaning Collection at the New Ulm Public Library.

She was cited for scheduling and directing the annual New Ulm
Move-A-Thon, a fund-raising event for the [National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota].

Cancer claimed Childrey's vision as a 2-year-old but it didn't
stop her from studying occupational therapy and early childhood
development at St. Catherine's College in St. Paul.

Since then, she has served the blind in many ways as an
occupational therapist.

For seven years, she worked at the New Ulm Medical Center hospital
before becoming a rehabilitation instructor for the State Services
for the Blind. She often travels around southern and central Minnesota helping people who are losing their sight adapt to their new challenges.

Childrey helps people with a variety of tasks including choosing a
career, cooking, writing resumes and traveling, among other things.

"I wouldn't ask people to do anything I couldn't do
myself," she added.

Childrey, president of the Riverbend Chapter of the [National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota], helped create the New Ulm Area Partnership for Independence to address the needs of those with vision handicaps.

Thanks to a $5,000 donation from the New Ulm Lions Club, equipment
available for checkout with library cards in the library basement includes closed-circuit televisions and other magnification equipment.

Library staff schedule appointments to try out equipment. Local
Lions Clubs and state funding can be used to help purchase items
found to aid the visually impaired.

Childrey directs the annual 10k Move-A-Thon each September that
has raised tens of thousands of dollars for blind and nearly blind people from across the state.

Participants from as far away as Minneapolis walk, bicycle or skate
from her home to Schell's Brewery where they stop for a cup of
root beer.

Volunteers pass out water and snacks at checkpoints in parks along
the way. Funds raised promote projects like voice-activated tellers and voting machines for the blind.

Childrey reads to her children and others at New Ulm Area Catholic
Schools by using a book with Braille text. She visualizes the story
by asking children to explain illustrations and pictures to her.

She operates a computer using Braille text and mechanical voices.

"Her spirit is one of the most energizing things about her,"
Johnson said of Childrey.

Donations can be sent to the National Federation of the Blind, 100
East 22nd Avenue [sic], Minneapolis, MN 55404.

(Copyright 2007 — The Journal)