BINGHAMTON, NY – NewsChannel 34 is recognizing Remarkable Women in our area.
Tonight, Jim Ehmke introduces us to a Binghamton woman whose decades-long commitment has earned her the respect and adoration of families with special needs.
Reva Reid meets with 5 year-old Andrew Blackman each week at his grandparents home in Chenango Bridge, working on his hand-eye coordination.
Andrew has cerebral palsy and a cortical visual impairment.
“I really try to work on improving function across the board. So, whatever that looks like for a kid,” says Reva.
That includes purchasing and modifying this motorized chair so that Andrew can have some mobility.
Andrew cannot walk or talk, but Reva says that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a lot to contribute.
While he struggles to communicate, his comprehension is excellent and he’s an engaging and inquisitive young boy.
“I learned from a very young age that everybody gets accepted, everybody gets included,” says Reva.
That included taking a neighbor named Patty who had cerebral palsy swimming and horseback riding while growing up in New Jersey.
Reva moved to our area in the early ’80’s and offers occupational therapy, early intervention and vision services to clients from 13 months-old to 18 years.
“If you were to ask me to list off a remarkable woman, she would be at the very top of my list,” says Andrew’s mother, Sarah.
Sarah says Reva goes out of her way to provide adaptive devices and toys as well as knowledge and advice.
“Reva has become like family to us. We sincerely love her. She is huge. And all of the growth and development that Andrew has made over the years, so much of it is attributed to Reva,” says Sarah.
Reva’s commitment to helping others doesn’t stop with the end of the work day.
She volunteers her time working with the local Down Syndrome community, including this signing and singing group called “Signing with the Stars.”
“Just because you have an extra chromosome, or you’re lacking a chromosome, or some other little glitch, we’re all in this together,” says Reva.
They practice every Wednesday evening at GiGi’s Playhouse in Vestal and occasionally perform at local nursing homes.
“It’s all love. Volunteer makes it sound like it’s work. It’s not work. It’s play, it’s wonderful, it’s joyful. What wouldn’t you do to go in and have everybody in the room light up and scream, ‘Oh Reva, you’re here! How nice!’ And hug you and kiss you. C’mon, it’s the best gig in town,” says Reva.
And Reva is committed to expanding her abilities.
Even with multiple masters degrees, she continues to take graduate classes to learn more about visual impairment.
And she’s been instrumental in helping disabled people move, through the Go Baby Go program that outfitted Andrew and others with small motorized carts, and through Ambucs which helps families purchase customized tricycles.
Like others we’ve interviewed for this series, Reva thinks she’s unremarkable.
“It’s embarrassing, it’s embarrassing. I don’t feel at all remarkable. I think I’m just somebody who tries every day to do the next right thing. What is it that you need? How can I help?” says Reva.
Reva’s relationships with her clients don’t end when they become adults.
She keeps in touch with them to mark all of their milestones and celebrate their abilities.