Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, January 23 , 2019, 10:17 am | Fair 60º

Your Health
A Noozhawk partnership with Cottage Health

Kitty Phillips Stays Forever Young with the Help of the Braille Institute

At 101, Phillips is grateful for her good health and longevity, which attributes to her experience at the center

Kitty Phillips is an Iowa girl to the core. Born in the sleepy town of Corning, she was educated at Grinnell College near Des Moines. Upon graduation, she married and moved to the town of Algon, population 6,000. She and her husband raised two boys there and lived a good life together.

Kitty Phillips
Kitty Phillips

But when her husband died unexpectedly at age 50, Phillips’ life was turned upside down. After 20-plus years as a homemaker, she was thrust into the unknown, forced to find a job to get by.

Always an avid reader, Phillips was fortunate and found work as the town’s librarian. She worked there for the next 20 years, retiring at age 70.

Phillips stayed on in Algona for the next 18 years, until her life was turned upside down yet again when she began rapidly losing her sight to macular degeneration. Her son, who lived in Santa Barbara, had heard about the Braille Institute’s regional center there, and asked Phillips to come live with his family.

“It was an easy decision,” Phillips said. “I knew I needed help.”

The first thing she did when she got to Santa Barbara was enroll at the Braille Institute. She knew immediately that she was home.

“Braille Institute really knows what a blind person needs and they furnish it,” Phillips said with a smile. “It’s a happy place to go. All of the people here have the same problem so they understand each other. You’re not embarrassed if you wear two shoes of different colors.”

During the past 12 years, Phillips hadn’t missed a session until recently, when a minor ailment kept her away from the center for a week, which is a remarkable feat considering Phillips recently turned 101 years old.

Through the years, Phillips has taken a variety of classes at the Braille Institute, including pottery, knitting, yoga, tai chi and, her personal favorite, swimming, which she participated in as recently as last year.

Phillips said she is grateful for her good health and longevity, which she attributes to good genes, a loving family and her experience at the Braille Institute.

“I learned here that there are other people like you,” she said. “Despite your disability, you’re still a valuable member of society. I can’t say enough about the staff and volunteers and the wonderful friends I’ve made here. Braille Institute extended my life, I have no doubt about it.”

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.


Special Reports

Heroin Rising
<p>Lizette Correa shares a moment with her 9-month-old daughter, Layla, outside their Goleta home. Correa is about to graduate from Project Recovery, a program of the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, and is determined to overcome her heroin addiction — for herself and for her daughter. “I look at her and I think ‘I need to be here for her and I need to show her an example, I don’t want her to see me and learn about drugs’,” she says.</p>

In Struggle to Get Clean, and Stay That Way, Young Mother Battles Heroin Addiction

Santa Barbara County sounds alarm as opiate drug use escalates, spreads into mainstream population
Safety Net Series
<p>Charles Condelos, a retired banker, regularly goes to the Santa Barbara Neighborhood Clinics for his primary care and to renew his prescription for back pain medication. He says Dr. Charles Fenzi, who was treating him that day at the Westside Clinic, and Dr. Susan Lawton are some of the best people he’s ever met.</p>

Safety Net: Patchwork of Clinics Struggles to Keep Santa Barbara County Healthy

Clinics that take all comers a lifeline for low-income patients, with new health-care law about to feed even more into overburdened system. First in a series
Prescription for Abuse
<p>American Medical Response emergency medical technicians arrive at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with little time to spare for victims of prescription drug overdoses.</p>

Quiet Epidemic of Prescription Drug Abuse Taking a Toll on Santa Barbara County

Evidence of addiction shows an alarming escalation, Noozhawk finds in Prescription for Abuse special report
Mental Health
<p>Rich Detty and his late wife knew something was wrong with their son, Cliff, but were repeatedly stymied in their attempts to get him help from the mental health system. Cliff Detty, 46, died in April while in restraints at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility.</p>

While Son Struggled with Mental Illness, Father Fought His Own Battle

Cliff Detty's death reveals scope, limitations of seemingly impenetrable mental health system. First in a series