Penny Forward Transcript: Part 1 Homebound Horizons, Love Leading the Way with Billy and Nancy Irwin

As Penny Forward is celebrating the holiday season, we are pulling up from the archive a previously played episode that is not on our current podcast feed, with a newly added transcript.


Date and Time



24 hours


Replay Part 1, Homebound Horizons, Love Leading the Way with Billy and Nancy Irwin

In this episode of the Penny Forward podcast, we interview Billy and Nancy Irwin, a visually impaired couple. They discuss their early lives, education, and careers, including their struggles and achievements. Nancy shares her journey from being a prematurely born child with visual impairment to becoming a theater major and working with the Episcopal Service Corps. Billy recounts his experiences with discrimination, his passion for amateur radio and computer technology, and his role as a county’s IT director. The couple also discusses their financial struggles early in their marriage. The episode ends with a story about the importance of persistence. This is a first part of a two part episode. In the next episode we learn more about where the couple is currently.


In addition to our online courses, member’s calls, weekly newsletter, and access to one to one financial counseling, Penny Forward members are able to access every Penny Forward podcast episode one week early. Join Penny Forward today to access all of our membership benefits.

You can follow this link to get signed up and guest membership is free!


How to Access…

Links go live at 6am on the day of release.

Listen here and read the show notes

New Transcript available here

(When this episode was originally available it did not contain a transcript.)

    Please note above this point will appear on each Podcast related page. Below this point will be page specific information.


    Special Note

    This episode is from the early days of the Penny Forward Podcast, some advertisement or other information may be out of date.



    Chris: Welcome to the Penny Forward podcast. Penny Forward is a community of people who are blind, their families, and friends, who share an interest in financial independence. Join us now, as we meet people like us, who are working towards their own success.


    Chris: My guests today are Billy and Nancy Erwin. They’re a married couple, and this is part 1 of a two-part interview with them. In this first part, we are going to hear about their early lives and careers, and how they met, and got married, and what it’s like to plan a family as a young couple. In part 2, we’ll learn more about their career, their married life, and what it’s like to buy their first home.


    Chris: Billy and Nancy, thanks for being here.


    Nancy: Thanks for having us.


    Billy: Thank you very much.


    Chris: So, you are married, and how long have you been married?


    Billy: Almost 6 years.


    Chris: And tell me how your story began. Um, Nancy, let’s start with you.


    Nancy: So I was born prematurely. And I have a twin sister. As a result of that, the only disability I emerged with was that of visual impairment, and my sister developed multiple disabilities, including deaf blindness and being in a wheelchair. And then we also had a younger sister as well. So, we’re all three girls in my house, and because of the nature of my sister’s disabilities, I was kind of considered the de facto oldest in my family. My sister and I, we are three years older than my younger sister. And so, I did things first. When I was really little, I started out at our state school for the blind, because they also had a section for students with multiple disabilities.  I was one of the kids in the class that had more vision than the others in my class. I, at the time, was probably somewhere around 20/400 or so, and, you know, no vision on my right side, because of the retinal scarring and detachment. I stayed in the school for the blind till I was probably about third grade, and then they mainstreamed me to the local elementary school close to the school for the blind. Ironically, my family lived in the same town as the school for the blind, and so, I was not mainstreamed in the same school district that I lived in. And my thought, in my ten-year-old brain was, “Well, if I can go to public school, why can’t I go to public school with my younger sister, and the people in my neighborhood?” It just kind of made sense to me. So, I went home and asked my mom. There were laws on my side, that basically said I could go to school wherever I wanted to go. And they had to accommodate me. And so, my parents of course, we didn’t know any of that. And so they went to the school district and asked for me to be allowed to go to school with my sister, and my fourth grade year, I did a trial period I think of about a month or two. I think it was maybe a six-week report card period. Just to see how I would do. And I obviously did fine, and got to stay, and I graduated with the group of kids that I grew up with, and went off to college, and, you know, I was the only blind kid in my district. And I was the only blind kid in my school. So, it was interesting growing up that way.


    Chris: Let’s pause there, and Billy, what was going on with you at around that time?


    Billy: So, I’m a little bit older than Nancy. I started at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind at the age of three. And up until about the age of twelve, I eventually was in their mainstream program to go to public school during the day, while still receiving services from the school at night. But by the time I was done with fifth grade, we too had learned that the laws had changed, and I could go to school in my district, which was about forty-five minutes away from the school that I was currently going to. So I was having to either stay in our living facilities at the school, after learning that, at that time, our school for the blind did not offer a high school diploma. They were not accredited. A lot of the higher functioning students were pulled out of the school and relocated to their home districts, at request of their parents, which is what happened to me, and so I went to regular public school in the town I grew up in, of Gaffney South Carolina, which is a very small town. And we had, approximately, at that time, I think three blind students in the district. And so I continued there, and pretty much graduated high school there. That puts me graduating in 2002. Nancy and I knew each other as very young children. I knew her more than she knew me, because me being older. So I remember her being there for a brief period of time. We were not connected with one another. Through that process, we actually didn’t connect back up until 2009. So, thanks to a former blind related social networking site that I don’t believe is still around anymore, but she had written an article and I recognized the name, discussed it with a friend of mine, and the friend of mine knew Nancy and suggested that I reach out to her. So, from the course of 2009 to 2014, I dated Nancy off and on, and pursued her like crazy.


    (Nancy laughs.)


    Billy: And I was extremely persistent, and finally, she gave in. And so after seriously dating for three or four months, I asked her to marry me, and here we are.


    Chris: (with a chuckle:) What a great  story! I love it. Nancy, tell me a little bit about your college life and your early career.


    Nancy: (with a chuckle:) So, can I just say I loved college? It was so much fun. I made one of the best decisions before I went to college. I … at least for me. I decided that I wanted a guide dog. And it was probably the craziest, most scariest thing I’ve ever done, at least as the nineteen-year-old that I was. Two weeks after high school graduation, I was on the airplane flying to Florida. I had n … I had been on an airplane by that point, but I had never been on an airplane by myself. And so, going to Southeastern Guide Dogs to get my first guide dog was a big thing for me. And what was really funny is my dad said to me, he said, “I want you to come back      with the biggest dog.” (Chuckle.) Well, I did. My first guide, Cole, was 84 pounds. and he was not a small boy. And he was a yellow lab, and, I have to say, he was a really great guide dog for a first time guide dog user. He was very sweet, really chill, it’s kind of why they gave him to me, because they figured, you know, I’m gonna be in class, and he needs to settle down easily. And he did all of those things. But what happened is, I gained my confidence. I was ready to walk faster. And I could get him to do it for a spirt, but I couldn’t get him to do it continuously. cause that just wasn’t his speed. And after about two years in college, I had to retire Cole. And it wasn’t just because of the speed. Later on, we found out that he developed canine diabetes. And so that explained a lot as well. And we just … we just didn’t know what was going on with him. So, it was actually really interesting because I started out, I went to Winthrop University. In South Carolina. It was close enough to be close enough to my family so that if I needed a ride or needed something they could come get me, but it wasn’t so close that they could come visit me and harass me all the time. Because I’m actually from Spartanburg, where the school for the blind is located. And so, there are several universities and schools in that area including Waford college and things of that sort, and my mom pushed really, really, really hard for me to go to one of those local schools, and I felt like I needed to kind of branch out. And what’s funny about that is that kind of, in a lot of ways, describes what I did later in my … my early career, but I changed my major. Just like most people do, half way through college. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I had spent some time, because I was in the school’s choir in high school. I spent some time with the guy that was recording our concerts. Like he had all these microphones, and he had all this stuff set up, and I really wanted to know, “What do you do with all that stuff?” You know, “Why do you have so many?” And all those kinds of things. And, I’m just a curious person. And I love figuring out, you know, “Well why did it do that?” And “How does it,” like, my favorite show was “How Stuff Works.” That’s just me. And so, I spent some time with this gentleman when I was in high school, and I decided to, when I went to Winthrop, go major in broadcasting. And it was a lot of fun, I really enjoyed, you know, the first couple of introductory classes, but then when I got down to getting ready to go into the production classes, my advisor, who was actually also one of the professors, wasn’t very forward thinking, I would say, and could not conceive of how I would participate in that arena of things. And I think he was thinking more about, you know, if I go work in like a news station or something, ’cause that’s kind of where their track would go for the broadcasting students. And, I’ll be honest with you, that wasn’t where I wanted to go anyway. I was quite happy at the thought of hanging out in the control room, and, you know, working on things, it didn’t necessarily have to be the news for me. It could have been anything. And so, uh, this was my advisor. I was gonna be in his class. And I kind of got the vibe, “You know, I don’t think this is gonna be a good fit for me.” Because I couldn’t conceive at the time of how I would make those things work. Um, maybe it’s just because I didn’t know anybody else in the field who was visually impaired, or maybe I was getting an inkling that I didn’t feel like I fit, I don’t know what the situation was, but I went downstairs to the theater department. cause they were in the same building, and I just so happened to be taking an acting class. Because you could either take public speaking or acting. And I kind of thought the idea of public speaking sounded incredibly boring, and given the state of my vision at the time, I wasn’t sure if I was a more effective really large print reader or a really effective braille reader. And so, I really didn’t feel like I was really good at either one. Because I had … I had lost some more vision in high school, kind of unexpectedly. You know, there’s all of those things on top of, “Well how do I … how do I read the stuff I need to read?” And so, in the acting class, it was a lot more about movement, and that was really good for me. Because I didn’t really have a good sense of my body in space. It was really nice to get feedback of what was I physically doing in space, and what did my presence look like, and was I standing up straight? Was my head looking straight? Just the little things that I really didn’t learn as a visually impaired kid who had now lost more vision, and, that are important in the sighted world. And so when I went downstairs to the theater department, I talked to the theater tech design professor, and kind of was just talking to her. About, you know, what I … what my interests were, how I felt like …  how I felt like I was a really creative person, but my creativity wasn’t being challenged, or maybe embraced to a certain level, and so she was like, “Well, why don’t you consider coming over to the theater department?” And that was probably one of the best decisions I made, because it exposed me to a lot. I mean yeah, it was mainly around theater equipment, and lighting, and drawing ground plans, which are really hard to do if you have limited vision, but I did it. You know, and I was able to build scenes, and build sets, and both in model form and physically, the scene shop, our commission for the blind had a summer teen program in high school. Which was really great because one of the classes that was taught by a visually impaired guy was wood shop. So, I learned how to be safe in the wood shop. And how to use tools and how to utilize skills that I didn’t even know I had at the time, and when I went into the scene shop at Winthrop, I was able to say, “Well, I was in a class one time, and we … and we learned about X Y and Z.” It was one of those things where I could say to my professor, “I think this might work.” And they would go, “Okay. Let’s try it.” And honestly, as a … as a twenty-one, twenty-two-year-old, I needed that. I needed somebody to say, “Yeah. Let’s give this a try and see what happens. The worst that could possibly happen is it doesn’t work.” I came to graduating college, and I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Because theater is such a wide and varying major. And you can actually do quite a lot with the skills that you develop. You know, there’s people that, you know, go and they become, you know, house managers for major theaters. And they … they go off and they do lots of other crazy things. And I really just kind of didn’t know. And I was actually exploring the idea of going into the ministry at the time. College really had been a place where I opened up my world a lot. And I went through a process in the church here in South Carolina, in the Episcopal church. And it eventually led me to, a year after I graduated college to … (Chuckle.) Doing an internship at a monastery. And a lot of people go, “What!” But it was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I went to Cambridge Massachusetts. I lived in the guest house with two other interns full time, and then there were two others that lived on a different property, and those two happened to be women. And so everybody had their own room at the guest house, and we were, you know, required to go to church all the time, and we had a mentor, and, um, you know, we all had different duties we had to perform throughout the day, and I experienced a lot. In terms of travel, and, you know, different climate, and, um, you know, all of those various things. And I had a new guide dog by that point. I got a new guide dog, also from Southeastern my junior year of college, and so he and I went on tons of adventures. And it was great to be a twenty-four-year-old, and to be able to, you know, have a safe place to be, you know, all my needs were met, and really, at that point, it was just learning about myself and exploring the world. And expanding my horizons. That went on for about an academic year. And then, because I was curious about the religious life. I enjoyed it, I enjoyed the routine, the brothers at the monastery sent me off to a program over the summer of that year, this is the 2012 summer, I went off to Canada for about a month to visit a convent. And it was a really great experience to be out in the … and I had never been in a different country before. I decided then that the religious life wasn’t for me. I wanted more. I wanted to have a family. I wanted to potentially have children. And I couldn’t obviously do that if I was in a convent. So, I came home, and I didn’t know what I was gonna do after that, and another internship landed in my lap through the same organization that I did my internship at the monastery. It was called “The Episcopal Service Core.” And they’re specifically designed to work with folks that I think are twenty to thirty, I think up to 32 now I think. And you essentially just give yourself, a year of service to a nonprofit, volunteer organization, and you do whatever it is that they need you to do. You know, and so, I figured out the religious life wasn’t for me, but I was still pondering going into the ministry. And so that second internship found me in Louisville Kentucky. And that was a really cool place to be. Because it was southern enough to feel close to home, so it wasn’t so unfamiliar, but it was still metropolitan enough to have access to transportation, and what I thought was really cool is that I got to experience what using public transit is like on a regular basis for a job. And that was not something that I had really had much of an opportunity to do in Boston because of the routine of the monastery, but also, at home, because of limited transportation, our network here is not nearly as extensive. And so, I had a job. I was working at a church. And I had to be there every day, even Saturdays and Sundays sometimes, um, you know, at various times. And so, I learned a lot. Like my O and M skills really, I mean, they got a work out. And I thought I had good O and M skills, but, and what was really cool is APH was there. AND so, you know, I had always gotten large print books from APH while I was in school, and so it was kind of like … I don’t want to say somewhere holy, but it was … it was kind of on that level of “Wow! Somewhere I’ve really got to go visit!” And, and so I went on a tour one day, and it was actually really cool ’cause I mentioned it to somebody where we were staying at, we were staying at the Cathedral in downtown Louisville, and I mentioned it to one of the staff members that, “Yeah. I’ve always wanted to go check out APH and I pass it by on my way to the church where I work every day, and I think I want to go on a tour.” And they’re like, “You know, I want to go too.” So, … (Chuckle.) So, we um, I think she actually drove me. I don’t remember, but we went over to APH, and I got to go visit. And see all the stuff they had. And what was really cool about being a blind person going to the museum is, they opened everything up.

    I got to put hands on everything. What an old-fashioned braille writer used to look like. And, you know, all kinds of different things. And now, you know, in my career now, I’m kind of like, “I kind of want to go visit again.” Because a lot of that stuff was neat and interesting, but it didn’t mean as much to me now as, or then, as it would now. And so while I … while I was in Louisville, sometime around January of that year, I was asked to apply for a job back in South Carolina, working at the Commission for the Blind, teaching folks how to use Jaws. Which I was excited about, but also, frankly, felt like I was unqualified for, but as somebody that needed kind of their very first job to jump out into the world of work and do stuff, the guy who became my boss, you know, he gave me a really nice pearl of wisdom. He said, “Well, you know, you may not feel qualified, but at this point, you know more about how Jaws works than the people that you’re teaching do. And the holes that you’re coming in with, we can help catch you up on those things.” And so, as, you know, the twenty-six-year-old, I needed to hear that. It was gonna be okay. And, it was actually funny. I was afraid to unpack, (Chuckle,) and she obviously convinced me to unpack, and I worked there for about 18 months. And I think I’m gonna stop. (Chuckle.) For now, at least, and let Billy catch up.


    Male Announcer: We’ll hear the conclusion of this interview in a moment, but first, a brief word from our sponsor.


    (Sound of radio station surfing., followed by a piece of music that has a history of running during Superblink commercials.)


    Byron: There are lots of kinds of radio stations out there. A.M, F.M, , terrestrial, satellite, internet only, no matter what kind of radio station it is, we want to help you with your imaging. Check out

    for ID’S, bumpers, promos, and more. That’s

    (More station surfing.)


    Male Announcer: Do you have a success story that you would like to share on the air? Leave us a message at 952-856-0313.


    Chriss: Billy. I kind of suspect that you, like Nancy, are the type of person that likes to know how stuff works.


    Billy: Um, so, when I graduated high school, or, or actually right before hand, I had gotten my amateur radio license. I had a fascination for emergency communications. And all this stems for me, for, for some unknown reason, growing up as a child, I had a fascination with trains. So much so that I have a lot of model trains in storage. I used to build very extensive detailed layouts, in H O scale, which does require a significant amount of vision, and with my condition of um, Leber Congenital Amaurosis, at one time I was correctable up to 21/70. So, through my educational  K through 12 career, I did everything pretty much visually. But I noticed as time went on, it was starting to change. But during my high school years, my eleventh grade year I got my amateur radio license, and so I would sneak and carry my ham radio, HT portable radio, with me in my jacket pocket. And my English teacher, who I had in tenth grade, and I also ended up with her in eleventh grade, for eleventh grade English, she caught me with my ham radio. And she pulled me off to the side, and instead of punishing me, she said, “You know, you need to meet my husband.” And come to find out, her husband was the county’s emergency management director. Little did they know, that back in the seventh grade, I had gotten fairly good with computers. And I had gotten accused of putting a virus on the school district’s network. And I did not do it, but in a small county where I grew up, you know, “poor little blind kid, let’s just blame it on him.” So, when I got blamed for that particular incident, it sparked an interest in me in computers, and so I started obtaining servers. Windows NT server, and trying to figure out domain controllers and how IT infrastructure worked. And, at this point, by probably … by eleventh grade, I had wired a PBX in my house. I had figured out how to have a um, what used to be called a key system, so it had extensions throughout the whole house with intercom. And I had figured out how to rewire the telephone jacks to support that system, and, and so I was always tinkering with things. So that brings me back to the county’s emergency management director. I go and I meet with him, and he says “I want you to start volunteering. ’cause I can’t pay you as an employee ’cause you’re not old enough.” And so, in the spring and summer of 2001, I had started volunteering with the county’s emergency management taking care of their  computer work. cause the county did not have an IT department, which is hard to believe looking back, but they didn’t. And so I became the county’s de facto IT guy. Even while I was still in high school. And so I also become a radio technician for the county. I was fixing their law enforcement, police, fire, EMS radios and repeaters and working on some of that equipment, and ended up with my amateur radio license, and so I also started volunteering my … part of my senior year as a 911 telecommunicator, also known as a dispatcher. And so I would dispatch emergency calls in our county, and because of my canny sense of direction, I knew all the roads in our county. And so I could give directions off the top of my head without having to, you know, look at a map. When 9-11 happened, and everything went chaotic, I was actually pulled out of my high school classes that day and asked to go be at the emergency operations center, should they have any immediate technical failures or anything should come up, ’cause at that particular moment in time, we didn’t know what was coming and what was happening. And I have to say, a lot of my family were either fire, police, or military, and I had that sense of service. I really wanted to serve my community, and I even called a military recruiter at one time ’cause I didn’t know if they made any accommodations for having a visually impaired person, and I called the recruiter and I asked him. I said “You know, I really want to serve my country.” He actually thought it was a prank phone call. He laughed me right off the phone. And that was disturbing to me. And I get where he was coming from, I’m sure he probably did think it was a joke. But I did want to serve my country in some form or fashion, and so I found my way to do that with amateur radio, as well as in my professional career. And immediately I um, got my amateur radio license, the area’s emergency coordinator for the county, he and I became very close friends. He’s a great mentor to me, and after we did that, he, he … he had me teach a ham radio class to some new folks were interested in amateur radio, and he come to me, he said “You’re gonna teach this part of the class.” And I was a very shy, timid person at the time, and I said “No, I’m not gonna do that.” He said “You’ll do it or else.” He really put the thumb over me, and I realized that after doing that, I stood up and I told the class, I said, “Well, I have no idea what I’m doing up here, but if you want to go ahead and throw tomatoes, go ahead and throw them now.” They didn’t throw tomatoes at me, and I am still friends with several of those that I taught in those classes. So it gave me … I built a sense of confidence around that. And so straight out of high school, I was hired as the county’s IT director, and stayed in that position for approximately three years. And in doing that job, the first year and a half to two years, I realized that my vision was getting harder, and the transition from going in and out of buildings was becoming more and more difficult. And honestly, I realized that I was honestly faking it. Trying to just do it with limited assistance. I didn’t even use a cane. But I noticed that as time goes, I’m running into more objects and it’s taking more time to adjust to these transitions and light. So, meanwhile, I get contacted, because I designed the county’s website, if you go back to my childhood briefly, my parents were sending my blood collections that I would periodically give at the doctor’s office, they were sending them to universities, and I didn’t know about it or really understand it at the time, but they were doing research on my eye disease, and the genetics involved behind it. So I get a call on an answering machine at work one day where the University of Pennsylvania is looking to have me come and participate in a clinical trial for gene therapy for people with the RP 65 gene mutation NLCA. And so in 2004 I started making trips back and forth to Philadelphia. In 2005 I left that job because in the ladder half of 2004, I obtained my first guide dog, and unfortunately was met with some discriminatory things, and it become more of a challenge. And so, end of 2005, I was actually demoted from my position as IT director. They said they didn’t need IT anymore. Go figure that one in today’s society, but they hired another individual, and I went to basically doing third shift dispatching. So I left that particular job, and did some freelancing and working from home on some various technical projects for people. I didn’t have a formal degree at that time. And so I survived off of pure demonstration of knowledge, working for different places along the way, for, whether they were temporary, grant jobs, whatever would come my way. But as time went on, I get into 2008, and I decide to go back to school, and I was half way through my degree. They cut the budget in such a way that this cooperative program between the school for deaf and blind and the local community college, a bunch of us got left with not being able to complete our degrees. So I’d gotten half way through it. And so I was able to take some additional knowledge from that process, and I went on, and just really bounced around through my twenties and into my early thirties trying to find a place that would hire me with a visual impairment. And I really met a lot of struggles. I worked for the state of South Carolina on a homeland security grant in 2012, and they were trying to find a way to hire me permanently in their data center. And I got met with questions of, “Wow. You know, how are you gonna go down here in the data center and find a server and a rack and, how are you gonna be able to put a server in a rack? How are you gonna be able to hang it on its rails? You know, you can’t do that not being able to see.” And one of my co-workers, who had actually taken an interest in me, tried his best to advocate ’cause he had been to my house to see my collection of enterprise IT equipment and what I could do. cause one of my other fascinations is buying and obtaining enterprise infrastructure equipment and running that on my network at home, and it’s become quite a … if you were to look at what I have now, it’s … you know, you’re probably looking at fifty thousand dollars or more worth of equipment that fills my garage. I tell you, I hit times of depression, and frustration, and wondering, “Well geez, you know, where do I fit in as a blind person? No one will seem to give me a fair shake. Well, in 2014, I ended up taking a position in the um … not too far from Chapel Hill South Carolina with the county, to manage their radio system. And I converted them from an old system to a new P 25 system. Well after about nine months of being there, unfortunately, two things happened. One, it seemed like I was running out of work to do. But they were going to have an exercise at one of the schools for active shooter emergency training, and so my new boss that was hired after I was hired, comes to me and says, “We’d like you to be in the training.” And I’m thinking, “That’s great.” And I chimed up, and I said “Well I’ll sit in the command post and make sure that the um, the equipment that they need to be able to communicate within the building works. And see if we can identify the holes in the system.” And he comes back with, “Well, no, that’s not really what I had in mind for you. Since you’re blind, you could play the perfect victim.” And I was just totally shocked. It caught me off guard. I didn’t even know what to say. I’d never been so insulted in my life. So I went down to my office, I was located in the basement of the building, and I called Nancy at the time. We had been dating for a few months, and I shared my concern with her about it. And, she’s like, “You know, you’ve, you’ve just had it rough,” she said “I think it’s time you go back to school and get … get some credentialing.” And we were already considering on getting married I think at that time, and so the decision was made, “You know what, I’m just not gonna work for … for this county anymore, being treated this way.” So I went upstairs, handed my resignation to the person that originally hired me, and he kind of felt like, “Oh well, you know, we knew you were probably gonna, you know, move back and get married and all that.” I said “Well, regardless, that’s … this is not right.” And, so he called human resources. Human Resources calls me later that afternoon, they tried to offer me more money to stay, they wanted to know how to fix it, and my simple response was, “Well, you can’t fix stupid.” So, I saw that as my golden opportunity to move to where my wife had gotten her job with the Commission for the Blind at the time, and I also think she was in her transition to her new job, so we were both in this transition trying to figure out, “well, you know, what’s the future hold for us?” So I did move back. I did eventually get my associate’s degree in network systems management. I was eventually hired, I went through three different companies that I worked for in the course of a couple of years, and various different challenges arose. Some was poor management from the folks I worked with, but nevertheless, it was an interesting challenge. So that, that kind of brings us to somewhat current. You know, and, and after all that, and being married for five years and me looking for work, and Nancy working on her master’s degree, it was a really … you know, there was times we didn’t know if we were gonna have money to eat. We didn’t know if we were gonna lose our place to live. We were … we felt like we were teetering so close on the edge, and even though we felt like we were trying to do everything right, we really struggled. So that’s kind of where we are up to that point. And however we can Segway into how it all turned around, let you be the judge.


    Chris: This is Part 1 of a two-part interview with Billy and Nancy Erwin. I hope you have enjoyed this week’s interview and will tune in next time, but before you go, sometimes persistence really pays off. My friend Byron had a run of bad luck after buying his first home. After about a year in it, he had three appliances fail in quick succession. First it was the oven, then it was the washing machine, and then it was the water heater. But he was persistent, and with his realtor’s help, was able to learn that they had a cash out option which would pay him cash for his broken washing machine rather than replacing it out right. He had to spend a little bit of his own money, but with the cash that he got from the home warrantee company, and his own money, he was able to replace his washing machine a lot sooner than they would have. He paid out of pocket for the oven, and while that was kind of an ordeal, he eventually learned that it can be exciting to get something even as boring as a new oven. Finally, the water heater was fixed by his gas company. But before he was able to get it fixed, with some help from his friends, he was able to figure out how to relight the pilot light so that he would have hot water until the gas company came to do the repairs. Byron’s persistence really paid off, and after replacing all these appliances, he has added thousands of dollars to the value of his first home.


    Chris: That concludes this episode of the Penny Forward Podcast. Penny Forward is a community of people who are blind, their families, and friends, who share an interest in financial independence. Join us, and we will work together to avoid financial obstacles and target our goals. To learn more, visit


    Until next time, I’m Chris Peterson, thanks for listening.



    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site is protected by reCaptcha and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.