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LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired|
Annual Report 2005
Their Stories Yours and Mine
it’s what we all carry
with us on this trip we take…
William Carlos Williams
From Anita Shafer Aaron,
One of the stories entwined in LightHouse history is that of Rose Resnick. Dr. Resnick came to California in the 1940s with a dream of operating a summer camp for blind children and adults. To support herself until she realized that dream, Rose played and sang in supper clubs throughout the Bay Area. Dr. Resnick, an accomplished pianist, had studied music at schools such as the Fontainebleau Conservatory of Music in France, before coming to California. When she and her friend, Nina Brandt, formed a nonprofit foundation to purchase what is now Enchanted Hills Camp, located in the Napa Valley, and hosted their first camp season for blind children in 1950, no one would have thought that both Dr. Resnick and EHC would still be with us today. Rose celebrated her 99th birthday in November, 2005. I'd like to thank her once again for imagining a place where each summer, kids of all ages find that vision loss does not interfere with having a wonderful time at camp. Rose dared to dream and it benefited all of us.
Happy belated birthday, Rose!
A very wise person once described “rehabilitation” not as a place to get to but as a journey you take. And as every traveler knows, it’s the journey not the arrival that matters. This year’s annual report tells of our clients’ personal journeys as they share the stories of their vision loss. The story of each of these individuals is also that of the LightHouse and of its leaders, staff and volunteers, many of whom are fellow journeymen on the road to vision rehabilitation. The heart of the matter is the spirit in which they travel, and not the destination at which they arrive. Travel is, indeed, truly enlightening.
“At first, I wasn’t very into going to camp,” says 16-year-old Kayla Sanders, “I didn’t want to be around a bunch of blind kids.” That was two years ago. Now Kayla loves going to EHC, where they know her as ‘Miss Responsible’ because of her kindness to others. Growing up with Sickle Cell Disease, glaucoma and retinal detachment, Kayla has always helped her younger siblings who also have the same hereditary condition. Despite constant pain, nothing can crush her utter confidence in herself and her future. Ask her what she wants to be and she will cheerfully reply “An artist, a cook or a therapist, depending on what works out!” With Kayla, you know that something will certainly work out.
Haben Girma is a 17-year-old senior at Skyline High School in Oakland. Because of Optic Nerve Atrophy, Haben’s vision has been decreasing since she was born, and she also has a minor hearing impairment. However, nothing is going to get in the way of her determination to see the world, and participating in activities at the LightHouse is her first step on this life-long journey. Every summer, Haben enjoys EHC, “where it’s absolutely cool to be blind,” she says. Throughout the year, she goes rock climbing with the Youth Program, challenging herself to climb higher and higher every week and conquer new boundaries. By coming to the LightHouse, Haben is learning every day what it means to be a successful blind person.
Connie Bruce, an 82-year-old resident of the Redwoods in Mill Valley, is today undaunted by her vision loss. Connie lost her sight gradually over the past decade, but she noticed a significant deterioration this year that left her unable to read large print without a magnifying glass: “It was a whole new challenge in terms of how to cope,” says Connie. At the LightHouse, she joined a support group and felt instantly connected both to resources and to people experiencing the same difficulties. Today, she can thread a needle with her “magical reading machine” and devote more time to her newfound passions, line dancing and demonstrating with “Seniors for Peace”. This whole new world is available to her, thanks to the support she receives at the LightHouse.
Marlene Hunn has been legally blind due to Type 1 diabetes for more than 50 years, with additional complications which have left her with a dual transplant and a triple amputation. Unable to continue her career as a nurse practitioner, Marlene’s independent spirit remains energized despite her physical disabilities. At the LightHouse, she uses the Taxi Voucher Program to attend eight medical facilities across San Francisco; a program which literally saves her life.
“I can read everything! There’s nothing in my apartment I can’t read!” says enthusiastic Dorothy Barta, 76-year-old Pacifica resident, about using her new CCTV. Diagnosed with Macular Degeneration more than a decade ago, Dorothy was determined to continue with her favorite past time – reading. At the LightHouse, she was introduced to the many services and resources that have since enabled her to read again. Not only that, but through computer classes Dorothy has learned to use Zoomtext, which enables her to continue her interest in genealogy. Dorothy, who remains engaged in life despite numerous health complications, loves LightHouse services so much she recruits new clients from her own apartment building. Truly, Dorothy “works with what she has” to lead an active, fulfilling life.
For 28-year-old Sam Rodriguez, moving to America from El Salvador opened the door to a world of opportunity. As a child, Sam was always told by his parents that he could succeed in life, and he certainly got no special treatment on account of his blindness. Since moving here as a 14-year-old, Sam has created his own success by participating at EHC and other LightHouse programs. Now, life is really taking off for him, both personally as he celebrates his recent marriage, and professionally: Sam has been accepted into the Fellowship Program initiated by National Industries for the Blind (NIB), and will shortly embark on a two year internship leading to a managerial position at NIB. Congratulations, Sam!
Fran Clever was a feminist before the word had even entered woman’s consciousness. This 86-year-old Humboldt County resident engaged in several high profile careers during her long life; she also married and raised a family of four. As a journalist, she reported breaking news during World War II. Now, she writes books, such as the published “Successful Living with Vision Loss Resource Guide.” Losing her vision 12 years ago, Fran struggled with her writing, but it was being unable to drive that really affected her in rural Humboldt County. Not one to be deterred by life’s challenges, Fran organized her own support group before connecting with the LightHouse of the North Coast. Today she runs our teleconference support group, of benefit to seniors throughout southern Humboldt.
For Ralph Griffin, the challenges of blindness are complicated by the difficulties of living with hearing loss. Ralph, a 73-year-old who lives in Walnut Creek, has Retinitis Pigmentosa and is profoundly deaf due to Ushers Syndrome Type 1. In denial about his dual complications for a long time, Ralph was unable to communicate with people, compounding his sense of loss with a feeling of isolation. Now, he uses tactile Sign Language and Braille for reading and writing, which has opened up his world. With these additional communication techniques, Ralph once more personifies the avid talker he always was!
18-year-old Khadija Dickens has been a camper at EHC since she was eight. In the face of the teasing she lived with in high school due to her eye condition, Khadija has learned self confidence from the other blind youth she meets at camp, who know what it’s like to be in her shoes. For Khadija, EHC is a safe place to explore and develop her creative self. As she proudly says, “I’m one of the hip hop DJs!” At camp, she’s also learned to dance and play the guitar with her large group of friends. Now in her first year at San Francisco City College, she’s thinking seriously about her future and what job she would like to do when she graduates. Currently, the LightHouse Youth Program is teaching her new skills through our paid Internship Program.
Every individual who loses their vision is unique in the services they need. But every individual has one thing in common: the right to access services which enable them to live as independently as possible. At the LightHouse, we offer a full complement of training, educational and recreational services, which help make independent living a reality for our clients.
The LightHouse promotes independence, equality, and self-reliance of blind and visually impaired individuals through rehabilitation training and access to other related services.
Who We Are
Founded in 1902, the LightHouse has expanded its geographic reach and services to become the most comprehensive organization serving the blind and visually impaired in Northern California. The LightHouse is a private, nonprofit organization and tax-exempt under Section 501(C) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Our tax identification number is 94-1415317.
Directory of Services
Recognizing that vision loss is a personal experience and affects individuals in different ways, the LightHouse has developed a diverse and comprehensive breadth of services to meet this challenge. All 63 staff members provide the community with accessible and professional services that in turn enhance clients’ quality of life.
Marketing and Outreach
The Year in Review
LightHouse Industries (LHI) produces an additional 43 million units of paper products for the victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. LHI employees were recognized by the Federal Government for their efforts in hurricane relief and for a manufacturing partnership that has spanned over fifteen years.
The LightHouse opens a low vision clinic in collaboration with the Berkeley School of Optometry. Dr. Robert Greer administers these exams every Friday, helping individuals create a plan of action for their vision rehabilitation.
Insights 2005, the 16th exhibition of works by artists who are blind and visually impaired, shown at San Francisco City Hall, initiates a Patrons program where the twenty four inaugural benefactors were treated to a private lunch reception and exhibition tour with the artists. Congratulations to Tara Arlene Innmon, Michael Richard and Kurt Weston for winning the 2005 Insights Outstanding Artist award!
Several families and friends of Enchanted Hills campers host fundraising events to raise money for the upkeep of the campsite in Napa Valley as well as camp scholarships. The LightHouse would like to thank the Gill Family, Joyce Cid, Charlie Wilson and Michael Valdez for helping to give others a “camper” experience.
The rehabilitation staff demonstrates a commitment to the community by participating in programs that provide continuing education courses, seminars, and conferences. Five members of the LightHouse staff are getting their Masters Degrees in Rehabilitation Training from Florida State University. The rehabilitation staff gives presentations on vision loss during two symposiums in April to the California Court system and the Northern California Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired (NCAER).
Access to Information Services (AIS) programs find an audience with the continued support of the Community Technology Foundation of California. Internet Phone Access Program (IPAP) allows anyone to access information on the LightHouse website via the telephone. Streaming Digital Audio Services (Audio on Demand) gives listeners the opportunity to hear LightHouse broadcasts twenty four hours a day, seven days a week.
Barbara J. Lassen finishes her term as Board President and hands the gavel over to Ed Zaik. LightHouse Board formally adopts “policy model” for Board governance at the 2005 board retreat. Often referred to as the Carver Model, this formalizes the LightHouse Board’s practice of governing the agency through official policy adoption.
Adaptations, The LightHouse store, installs new accessible computer software, Retail Pro. The program makes it easier for store employees to track and order inventory, record customers sales and buying history, and run retail reports
With your support, The LightHouse impacts the lives of nearly 3,000 blind and visually impaired individuals and their families each year with robust and innovative programs and services that promote independence. If you are interested in supporting us through monetary or in-kind donations, or by volunteering, call us at 415-431-1481 or visit our website at www.lighthouse-sf.org.
With your help…
Rowan Clara Donor Group
Joseph R. and Loretta Agliolo
Paul J. Akrop
Max H. and Mary June Allen
|A collaborative effort of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired And Texas Commission for the Blind Winter 2003 volume 8, No, 1||Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired|
|California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired||Providing Learning Support for Blind and Visually Impaired Students Undertaking Fieldwork and Related Activities|
|Incomplete adults: the mentally impaired in classical antiquity||The Blind Leading: Aristophanes’|
|American Council of the Blind||Holiday Party For the Deaf & Blind 5|
|The Hadley School for the Blind est. 1920||Michigan commission for the blind staff present|