Meet Kenneth and Andreana: Seeing With the Heart

Papa member Kenneth and Papa Pal Andreana motivate each other through life-changing diagnoses, agreeing their meeting was a godsend.

After losing his vision, Papa member Kenneth didn’t know if he wanted to go on living. Then Papa Pal Andreana came into his life and became not only his eyes, but his best friend.

Meet Kenneth

Kenneth, 71, is retired and lives alone in Jacksonville, Florida. His life hasn’t been easy, by any stretch of the imagination. He dropped out of school at an early age, has spent time in jail, and has found himself homeless more than once.

His most recent hardship, and the worst by far, has been losing his sight. With no support system nearby—everyone in his family is either no longer alive or not in touch with him, and his friends don’t live nearby—his mental health suffered significantly. He became very depressed and couldn’t find a reason to keep going.

Then he met Andreana. “When I got Papa,” Kenneth says, “I didn’t know what to expect. I prayed for an angel, and Andreana has been that.”

Meet Andreana

Andreana, 61, retired from a 35-year career at the Department of Corrections in 2018. One of her colleagues had told her about Papa and shared information on how to apply, so she did. Being a Papa Pal has allowed Andreana to give back to her community in her new free time, which makes her very happy.

The same year she retired, Andreana was diagnosed with breast cancer, which has been a difficult adjustment for her—physically, emotionally, and mentally. Working with Papa has helped. “Being a Papa Pal is very rewarding,” she says. 

Since becoming a Pal, she’s even visited a few Papa members who are breast cancer survivors and have wanted to talk about what they went through.

Then there are people like Kenneth. Andreana says it was “a godsend” that she picked his visit when she did.

Kenneth and Andreana’s beautifully timed connection

Kenneth has always been very independent. Even in hard times, he has managed on his own. Asking for help is a challenge for him, but with the loss of his vision, he had no choice. 

In what feels like the hand of providence, Andreana was raised by her uncle, who had also lost his vision, and she had to learn how to take on responsibilities from a young age. Knowing Adreana has experience with a situation similar to his makes Kenneth feel so much more comfortable.

“When I first met Mr. G,” Andreana says, “he was very guarded and very depressed.” She told him, “I can be your eyes, and you can be my Papa!” And, from that moment on, they connected in a very special way.

Andreana drives Kenneth to his appointments, but she also makes sure he’s “presentable” before they leave the house, since he can’t see what he looks like. She also advocates for him while they’re out, since he can’t see what’s happening around him. Instead of being anxious and on edge, Kenneth can relax and trust that Andreana will look out for him and keep him safe. 

They’ve also bonded over their spiritual connection. It’s one of their favorite parts of their visits. “We got a cassette player for him to play sermons and music through,” Andreana says, “and it’s just blessed me.” She also helped get Kenneth get an antenna for his television. “The things I may take for granted are very important to Mr. G,” she says.

Kenneth’s mental health has improved exponentially since their first visit. “I was suicidal after losing my sight,” he says. “I didn’t think I could go on, but she’s helped a lot.”

“He’s really opened up in ways I didn’t think he would,” Andreana says. “I’ve seen him become happier and more vibrant. It’s so fulfilling to me to see he has more confidence now.”

The blessing goes both ways

Their connection has been a blessing to Andreanna as well. When she’s feeling low and discouraged, Kenneth encourages her and brings a smile to her face. “He gives me wisdom, and I give him what I can,” she says. “He’s like family to me.”

They help each other get through days when it feels like all hope is lost. Compassion is a beautiful thing, and it can literally change—even save—someone’s life. In this case, two lives.