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Blind call center worker using listening skills to help people during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 10, 2020

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Anyone who works in a call center is expected to be a good listener, especially when you are taking calls in response to COVID-19.

Katie Bandel prides herself on her listening abilities. She was born with a rare eye condition, and has been blind for the past eight years.

“I know that’s one of my tools in my tool box, if I can’t do anything else I can at least listen,” said Bandel, of Service Source.

Bandel has been answering calls for Service Source for more than a year. When COVID-19 reached record numbers, so too did the phone calls to the state asking for help.

“It’s mostly 411 so we give out phone numbers for other state agencies,” said Bandel.

Working from home in Dunedin, alongside her guide dog Charlie, she said she feels the pain in people’s voices.

“They are frustrated and having a very difficult time,” said Bandel.

Even though a call may only last a minute or two, she receives a great sense of pride knowing she made a difference.

“You can tell when you first talk to them, they are kind of frantic when you are talking to them at first, and by the end of the call they seem a lot more calm down,’ said Bandel.

She is one of more than 100,000 people with disabilities that Service Source has helped receive gainful employment or housing since 1959.

‘Having a job and contributing to my community, not always having to rely on people, that’s important to me,” said Bandel.