Blind woman, 80, teaches veterans origami, inspires others to keep going

80-year-old Kazuko Renes, also known as "Grandma," teaches veterans origami without seeing their creations or faces. (KPIC image)

WINSTON, Ore. -- A woman from Winston is helping veterans - one origami class at a time. But it’s her own disability that inspires them the most.

We visited the VA Roseburg hospital to find out more about 80-year-old Kazuko Renes, also known as "Grandma," who teaches veterans origami without seeing their creations or faces.

Why? Because she’s been blind for the last 20 years.

But her disability doesn't hold her back: "I'm 80 years old, blind and handicapped, but I'm useful. That's the part making me happy."

Kazuko says she teaches veterans origami to help them learn patience, something says she didn't have when her eyesight started fading.

"I want to die; that's all I was thinking about. But you can't die - you have to live…gotta do something. And I always like to do stuff for other people."

Veterans say Kazuko has taught them to never give up.

"Instead of saying boo-hoo, I'm blind, she's like, ‘I'm going to learn origami.’ And you know what? I'm going to teach it to people who can use it to learn patience and there's a lot of veterans who can learn patience, and I was one of them," explained Joseph Malaguti, a veteran learning origami.

As for how Kazuko feels about the impact she's left: "You don't know how much that makes me happy. That kind of thing, ya know?"

Kazuko says she will continue to teach veterans origami no matter what hardships she goes through and hopefully it will inspire others to keep going.

If you are a veteran interested in learning origami. contact the Mental Health Clinic at the VA hospital in Roseburg.

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