October is Disability Awareness Month, a month that we honor people with disabilities that have made contributions to society. Doretha Smith is an exemplary disabled individual who did not let her visual impairment stop her from pursuing her dreams. She wrote her first self-help book, “Divinely Chosen: The Lord God with a Master Plan.” In her religious work, she uses biblical scriptures to inspire individuals to pursue their aspirations and conquer the obstacles that they face. Smith is no stranger to barriers; she has retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerate eye disease. She said that her friends, family and her faith have helped her overcome obstacles and fulfill her dreams.
“I do not believe in pity parties. People should not sit back and feel sorry for themselves just because they have a disability,” Smith said. “Being visually impaired inspired me to write my book. I want people to believe the message in my book that all of us are divinely chosen to fulfill our master plan."
As a minister of Refreshing Springs Tabernacle, Smith uses her book to preach the word of the Lord. She is also involved in W.I.S.E Ministry (Doretha Smith founder), which is a ministry dedicated to enlightening and educating people. She said that this ministry enriches people physically, mentally and spiritually by connecting them with valuable resources and teaching methods. There are currently six volunteers working in this ministry and one of them is a doctor she said.
“God is a God of love and mercy who can turn a bad situation into a positive one,” she said. “Through my disability, God has used me to bless and empower others.”
Due to her faith, strength and perseverance, Smith has accomplished so many of her goals. She completed her BSW and MSW as well as a minor in sociology. She plans to pursue her degree titiles as a social worker since she loves helping others. She also hopes to write more self-help books, religious books and a children’s book to inspire youngsters who have disabilities. She gives the following advice to people who plan to become future authors:
“In order to write a book you must remember to never give up,” she said. “You must be determined, committed, dedicated and hard working.”
Smith is proud of the services that disabled people have, but she still feels that improvements need to be made. As a minister, she makes sure that her visually impaired and blind parishioners have large print books.
“Even though some churches provide the necessary accommodations for disabled people, other houses of worship need to include large print books for visually impaired individuals,” she said.
During Disability Awareness Month, Smith thinks that diversity is a strength that can help disabled people reach their goals. When she was taking sociology classes to complete her MA, she found a classmate, who was not disabled, who worked with her and helped her. They both completed a class project that earned a high mark since they both worked together and learned from each other. As a result of her experiences working with others, she feels that one of the most important messages that we can spread to others during Disability Awareness Month is unity between disabled individuals and those who are not disabled.