Arianna Calesso

“We’re Here to Be for Each Other”
Words and music by Hank Fridell
with Mrs. Deichert’s 5th Grade Class
©2003 Hank Fridell





      Arianna Calesso

I take your right arm and walk a half step behind
I have faith in what I will find
Faith means you believe, believe it’s there
Even though you can’t see it, you trust it is there

Where one is weak another is strong. (They may be different)
If someone’s struggling help them along. (They’re doing their best)
There’s something you can learn, don’t laugh or pretend.
We’re here to be here for each other, be a friend.

I could sing before I could talk, loved languages and songs.
Learning came easy, I’ve spent my life teaching, and helping others along.
I raised four beautiful children, then adopted nine more.
Lou and I teach computers to the blind, teaching is what I’m here for.

My mother’s voice, my father’s whistle, I missed them so at school.
But I found friends, they’re like family, it’s almost spiritual.
Now there’s someone I understand, sharing joys and sorrows, too.
He’s my right hand, he’s my life, he’s my Lou.

If I could start my life over I would not be different.
I am totally, absolutely contented.
Living in a sighted world hasn’t always been easy.
I have faith God can use me just the way I am.

We are here to be here for each other, be a friend.

My name is Arianna Calesso and I was born in Trenton, New Jersey in 1935. When I was two months old, the doctor told my mother I was blind. That day was her birthday. Wouldn’t that be a terrible birthday present? I lived a normal life like any other child. The word “can’t” was never used in our house and I was told, “Big girls don’t cry.”

At age five, I was sent to a boarding school for the visually handicapped. I missed my family terribly when I was at school Monday through Friday. I loved spending time with my parents. I lived in a wonderful neighborhood with children to play with. I learned to ride bikes, and I was a very good jump roper.

I always wanted to go to public school so I could live at home during the week. In ninth grade, I was able to transfer to a public school. I was thrilled and thought it would be a great adventure. I was one of two students in the state of New Jersey that was given permission to attend public school in 1949. I loved languages and music. I memorized all of my music and when Braille books weren’t available, a Kindergarten teacher read the assignments to me.

After graduating 18th out of 311 students, I attended Rider College and studied to be a switchboard operator. I always wanted to be a teacher, and I guess I always was. I raised four beautiful, intelligent daughters and adopted nine other children, all with disabilities. Raising children wasn’t different for me, I baby sat from the time I was seven. I had wonderful neighbors and family too.

Helping people, advocating for blind people, writing songs, collecting clocks, and teaching blind people how to operate computers are things that make me tick. I think it is important for people to be fair, helpful, and friendly. You never know what you might learn from someone who is different than you. We are all here to help each other.

Lou, my husband, is the love of my life. We share fears and joys together. We understand each other and we get along great. We have a non‐profit organization called Communicating Computers for the Blind Foundation. We want to help blind people learn how to use computers, so they can get a job and be more independent.

One thing I would like to see in Spearfish is available transportation on the weekends and safer sidewalks to walk on. You could get run over in this town at intersections, even if you are sighted!

Advice: Don’t go to the person who wants to be friendly. Go to the one who is a little shy and quiet, and you’ll learn something you wouldn’t in 10,000 years. Maybe that person will be a little less afraid, and a little friendlier.

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