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Living Life To The Fullest | Tekesha Saffold

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WOMEN ON THE MOVE

Introduction:

Welcome to Bold Blind Beauty and Beyond Sight Magazine, an online community where Real Beauty Transcends Barriers. Our Women On The Move segments focus on monthly profiles of inspirational women; their capabilities, achievements, and their journeys as they navigate through the course of sight loss and blindness.

I’m your host, Nasreen. For our July 2020 segment of Women On The Move, our featured guest is the lovely diva herself, Miss Tekesha Saffold. Hi, Tekesha. Welcome.

“Living life to its fullest,” that’s her mantra. And she’s a former contestant of the Ms. Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant. She’s a disability advocate, role model and mentor, and a captain of the Braille Bandits, just to name a few of her extraordinary things she has done thus far. And also, she was our Monthly Beauty for the month of May.

So let’s all give a warm welcome to Tekesha.

Interview with Tekesha Saffold & Nasreen Bhutta

Transcription

Tekesha Saffold:

Hello. I’m so excited to be with you all this afternoon.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?

Tekesha Saffold:

Takesha Saffold Photo #2
Tekesha Saffold Photo #2

Well, I was born and raised in Palm Beach County, Florida, I reside currently in Riviera Beach, and I was born to a pretty large family. My grandmother had eight kids. My father is a seventh out of eight kids. I’m the oldest. I have a younger sister and I have four brothers. I went to local schools here in Riviera Beach, and I graduated from Suncoast Community High School and worked in various jobs.

Later on in life, at the age of 26, I became visually impaired from retina detachment. And so from there, I had to be rehabilitated, learning various things to make me as independent as I am now. I joined the National Federation of the Blind (NFB), which I joined the local chapter here in Palm Beach County, and I immediately was voted in on the board. I became treasurer the following year, and I have served as president for the NFB of Palm Beach over the last six years.

Also, during that time, I attended Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida, where I majored in social work. And I’m involved in so many different things. I consider myself a consumer advocate for the disabled community, which I have served as the liaison for our disabled community in the city of Riviera Beach.

Throughout my journey, I’ve had various experiences of traveling various places and being involved in various things, which some of those things I’m quite sure I will be sharing with you all.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Let’s just go back to when you first were diagnosed with the, I guess it’s ROP, at the age of 26. I mean, that’s a young age. You’re just finishing college, just starting life really. How did that make you feel?

Tekesha Saffold:

At that age, 26, which was a very fun time for me being sighted. I was working, I was working two jobs at the time, I was living independently, and I was driving. And for myself, I never thought that I would be visually impaired.

So it just sort of happened out of nowhere, within two weeks. I was losing eyesight. And I thought, maybe, like many others, I thought that I would regain my sight at some point because I was in denial. But it’s a life changing experience at that age. Definitely.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So you love to travel. What has been your favorite place to travel to thus far?

Tekesha Saffold:

Let’s see. There are so many places that I have enjoyed visiting, but I would have to say visiting Washington DC has been one of my favorite places I have visited, primarily for advocacy purposes for the NFB Washington Seminar. I’ve been able to attend quite a few times, and I enjoy the atmosphere and the culture and things of that nature.

And I have to just include one other place. I love New York city. I cannot forget about New York.

Takesha Photo #3
Tekesha Photo 3

Nasreen Bhutta:

Me too. Any tips for first time travelers?

Tekesha Saffold:

I would say to not be nervous or afraid, and don’t be afraid of asking. Planning and organizing it, how you want to do it from step-by-step certainly would help the journey. Not just sort of spontaneously getting up and traveling, but just sort of mapping things out. But confidence is key. So if you have the confidence, you will certainly have the ability to feel comfortable with moving around using your cane and just being comfortable with asking people for assistance if you need to.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Can you tell us a little bit about the Just Us Blind Girls initiative?

Tekesha Saffold:

Yes. I want to say in 2011, I went to a conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Miss Virginia Gray, who was the founder of Just Us Blind Girls, because it originates from out of Atlanta, Georgia. I attended a conference in it in 2012 in Palm Beach County. Myself, along with other women, we hosted a conference here as well. I wouldn’t say it died out, but the participation was low.

And so when I graduated in 2017, I was asked if I would like to carry the name in Palm Beach County and facilitate a support group for blind and visually impaired women, just to discuss some of our challenges that we have. I also bring in guest speakers. I call them “sheroes”, women who are heroes in our blind community and who set an example and who are doing things in their community to make a difference. But primarily, it’s a sisterhood of women where we can support one another; how we can turn those challenges into actual things that can be celebrated.

Nasreen Bhutta:

First of all, is that remote or is it onsite? And is it just in the Florida area?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, since this pandemic, we have been meeting remotely, which has been a benefit to our support group because we’ve been able to invite many other women from other areas. So there’s no geographical restrictions. We meet every third Wednesday of the month, which I can provide the conference call number that we use, which is 2539933677.

So we invite any visually impaired or blind female, or just any women in general who’s interested in knowing more information, and we plan to have many guest speakers in the near future.

Nasreen Bhutta:

You also took part in the Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant. What was that experience like for you?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, that experience was a great experience. I would have to say, first of all, when I was a contestant in the pageant, which is in 2018, I was the only contestant that was out of state. So it was interesting for myself flying back and forth to Newark, New Jersey, which I had to fly for various workshops and practices that we had. So it gave me an opportunity to be in a different area that I never traveled, and also to meet other women and to know that there are other women who are involved and who are doing things in their community, and just meeting new friends. So it was certainly a great experience and I would encourage anyone to take on any type of activities or different opportunities that we do have in our blind community throughout the country.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Were you crowned Ms. Diva?

Tekesha Saffold:

No, I wasn’t. But we had to do a video that displayed our independence. It was called the Miss Independent YouTube Challenge. And so I think I got about 2100 views, but I was crowned Miss Independent for the YouTube challenge. So I looked at that as a great win.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Who is your major influencer, would you say?

Tekesha Saffold:

I would have to say our former First Lady, Michelle Obama. I think that she’s certainly a very classy, conservative, educated female, and she certainly inspired me in many ways.

Nasreen Bhutta:

And how do you define success and failure?

Tekesha Saffold:

Success shouldn’t be measured as to how large the accomplishment is. I mean, I think that if I could lose a couple of pounds, that’s a success for me.

I would say that to count the small things and don’t be so hard on yourself, just look at it as it’s a learning experience, and how can you better in that area? And I think that failure, in my opinion, is not an option, even if it’s just taking a couple of steps back, because sometimes in life we adjust back and forth, back and forth, but as long as you continue to have the determination to move forward, that’s where you’re succeeding, no matter if it’s just a small step ahead.

So I just look at those things as just having a positive attitude and outlook on anything that you do in life.

Nasreen Bhutta:

And what do you foresee in longterm goals? What is next for you?

Tekesha Saffold:

There’s quite a few different things. I hope to pursue further education. I’m always looking for various employment opportunities. And I’m also in the process of writing a book on just my experience in different aspects of my life and in marriage.

Nasreen Bhutta:

So how can we reach you Tekesha?

Tekesha Saffold:

Well, I am on Facebook. My Facebook name is T. Nicole Saffold (S-A-F-F-O-L-D). I also have a LinkedIn profile, which is my name, Tekesha Saffold. You can also find me on Instagram at TK Saffold. And also my email address, which is tnsaffold82@gmail.com.

Nasreen Bhutta:

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible and insightful journey with us.

You’ll be able to find Tekesha’s story in Beyond Sight Magazine, under Women On The Move for July 2020, at www.boldblindbeauty.com.

Thanks for listening.

Bio:

Tekesha Saffold has served for six years as President of the Palm Beach Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and formerly served on the state board of the NFB for two years, which has been guided by strong, committed, and passionate leadership since 1940.  She has been visually impaired for about 12 years and is a passionate consumer advocate in Palm Beach County, where she was born and raised.  The owner and founder of Saffold’s Consultant Service, LLC, she has helped organize campaigns for various politicians and their causes in South Florida.

Among Saffold’s advocacy projects are providing ADA sensitivity training to employers and serving as an advocate for the local transportation system as a member of the Local Coordinating Board for Transportation Disadvantage, which focuses on transportation needs of the disadvantaged in our community, including individuals with physical and economic challenges and seniors.  In addition, she facilitates a support group for Just Us Blind Girls to mentor and empower blind and visually impaired women in Palm Beach County. She is also involved with community service projects through the Lake Worth Lions International Club to empower volunteers to serve their communities, meet humanitarian needs, encourage peace and promote international understanding.

Outside of her professional activities, Saffold plays beep baseball and is the captain for the Braille Bandits of Palm Beach County, which played in the 2019 World Series in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She enjoys traveling the world, whether it is legislating in Washington, D.C. for various issues pertaining to the civil and equal rights for individuals who are disabled or being a former contestant for the Ms. Blind Diva Empowerment Pageant in Newark, New Jersey.  

Saffold, who lives in Riviera Beach, Florida, graduated with honors from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton with a bachelor’s degree in social work and will be pursuing a master’s degree in public administration.  One of the most important roles in her life is being the mother of a beautiful young lady who is currently pursuing her dreams and art and other crafts. She lives life to its fullest potential and anticipates other opportunities in the near future.  

Image Descriptions:

  • Beyond Sight Magazine Cover. Tekesha is on the cover wearing a red Express sweetheart long sleeve dress with an Aldo purse with hearts and matching pumps. Heart-shaped earrings with glittery eyeshadow and soft pink lipstick from Sephora. The masthead is teal with “Beyond Sight Magazine” in black text. The dot on the ‘i’ in ‘sight’ is the eye used for our 2020 Year of Vision Campaign (described HERE). There are 3 lines of white text that say “Auditioning for Bold, Blind, and Beautiful.” In the bottom right corner is a teal circle with an illustration of Abby rollerblading. She has on a black crop tank top complete with her logo on the front with black shorts, and gray & teal roller blades. And of course, Abby wouldn’t be Abby without her signature explosive hairstyle, and “Women On The Move” is yellow text under the circle.
  • Tekesha is wearing a beautiful white spaghetti strap dress that has floral sequences in bright colors, soft pink open toe heels with fur along the toes and glitter on the heel, rose gold accessories with a hint of rhinestones in the earrings to bring out her beautiful makeup by Sephora.
  • Tekesha is wearing a bright yellow maxi dress with a Tory Burch rose gold purse and sandals and other rose gold accessories which bring out her beautiful makeup by Sephora. 
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