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FROM THE SIOUX CITY JOURNAL
"Alvord Native Authors Books Despite Loss of Sight"
When Ardis Bazyn graduated from West Lyon High School, Inwood, Iowa, in 1969, she did not foresee what changes would take place in her life. Four years later, literally, she was blind. However, that loss of sight did not inhibit her from starting her own business and authoring two books.
Born in the small community of Alvord, Iowa, to Arie and Gert Kiel, she applied for work immediately after graduation. She was offered a position as a bookkeeper-receptionist at The Book Store in Sioux Falls, S.D., and in 1970, as a proof dispatcher at the Sioux Falls Argus Leader. Life changed dramatically when she lost her sight in a car accident in
"I had gone to a rodeo in the De Smet, South Dakota area, with my then-boyfriend," she said in a telephone interview from her home in Burbank, Calif. "It was about 10:30 at night and we were on an unfamiliar gravel road. He went off the road and into a deep ditch." Bazyn was seated in the middle of the front seat of the 1962 Chevy. Her head hit the dash and the impact smashed her glasses into her eyes. "They didn't expect me to live," she said. "I was in the hospital for 21 days recovering."
She returned home to Alvord and had to seriously re-think her career options.
"It was a pivotal moment for a 20-year-old," she said. "I had to learn to read all over again."
Adding to the tragedy of the situation was the fact that Bazyn's youngest sister had been killed in a car accident just six months prior to her crash.
"In the long run, that was probably beneficial to me," she speculated. "I was bound and determined to show my parents that I could handle anything." "I could handle anything." became Bazyn's personal anthem. After completing food service management training, she was given the opportunity to manage a small snack bar in the Argus Leader for employees. After three years, she moved on to other food service facilities in South Dakota and Iowa.
"I heard stories from other blind people who took 18 months to several years to work through their life changes," said the oldest of six siblings in the Kiel family. "I never felt that. I wanted to learn and learn quickly."
Over the years, Bazyn had been active in volunteerism both in local churches and a variety of other organizations. She was frequently asked to speak on different topics and to work on writing projects. She joined the American Council of the Blind in 1985 and became involved at the national level in 1990.
As the wife of a husband with multi-disabilities and parent of two pre-teen daughters, she took on the additional challenge of going back to college while working full time in the food service business. "I toyed with the idea of returning to school, until a blind friend of mine decided to return to law school for his degree," Bazyn explained. "I decided if he could do that, I could handle that."
In 1996, she received two B.A. degrees, in public relations and speech communications, from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and in 1998, she was awarded a master's degree in Arts in Teaching from Coe College. "As I spent my time volunteering, I realized I enjoyed helping others learn how to improve what they were doing and I wanted the necessary skills to become a more accomplished speaker and writer," said the Lyon County native. "I had been speaking to Christian women's clubs and talking at schools about disabilities and giving advocacy talks to legislators." After leaving the food service management field, Bazyn decided to start her current business as an inspirational and motivational speaker and writer. She moved to Burbank, Calif., in 1999, and established Bazyn Communications to help businesses, organizations, churches, and individuals realize their full potential. The company has its own website at www.bazyncommunications.com. She found a demand for printed materials on the subjects of her speeches.
Her work came to fruition this spring when she published her first book, "Building Blocks to Success: Does the Image of Your Church Attract Members?"
"I grew up in a family filled with faith," said the former member of First Christian Church in Doon, Iowa; "and I did my master's project on 'The Needs of a Membership Organization.' The professors told me back then to consider writing a book. I decided I could handle that."
The book addresses the issue of church attendance. Strategies for recruiting and retaining membership includes: improving attitudes toward newcomers, positive visitor follow-up methods, publicizing church functions and activities; promoting the church in the community and setting realistic goals for church attendance.
"I think it's important to be connected to a church community," Bazyn said. "I think people lose out if they aren't connected with the fellowship of a church."
Her second book, "Building Blocks to Success: Does the Image of Your Organization Attract Members?", went to print on July 1. She also plans to offer books on tape and CD.
"People wonder how I do it," Bazyn said of her talks, her books, her lifestyle. "I have a computer with a speech synthesizer and a laptop with a braille keyboard and display."
Her presentations are primarily in the Burbank area, although she has plans to market the company in Northwest Iowa. Her mother, Gert Van Roekel, now lives in Boyden, Iowa and several family members reside in the land of corn and soybeans.
Bazyn explained her motivational talks focus on coping with challenges and change in one's life. They should be subtitled, "I think I could handle that."
For Positive inspiration, contact Bazyn Communications!
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