A laptop for Erica Brenner

Erica Brenner of Colerain Township with the magnifier she uses while grocery shopping. A variety of health issues has led to a decrease in the quality of her eyesight.

The Enquirer and United Way of Greater Cincinnati have joined forces for the 35th year to help families in need with the Wish List program. This is the second of eight stories that will run this month. 

Erica Brenner has always been a helper. Now she’s the one who needs some help. 

For 22 years, the 59-year-old Colerain Township resident was a home instructor for Northwest Local Schools. She also tutored privately. She taught students with behavior issues and with multiple disabilities. She taught students who were pregnant and who were battling disease. She loved the families she met. And the work. “It becomes what you live for. It becomes who you are,” she says. 

But health issues – she has many, including autoimmune disease, diabetes, heart ailments, an enlarged thyroid – have taken their toll. She last worked in August 2017, when she had surgery for a serious infection. While in the hospital, she looked in a mirror and had trouble seeing her face. She was diagnosed with diabetic retinopathy, which can lead to blindness.