August 22, 2012
Summer is always an exciting and busy time at the Lighthouse—and this year was no different. We had a wonderful annual dinner which was attended by our Lighthouse Board of Directors, staff, a local funder and a few volunteers. Thank you to the Lighthouse Board of Directors, and all who work hard every day to ensure our clients have the opportunity to increase their confidence and independence.
Every summer at the Lighthouse is an adventure—for the youth, and the staff and volunteers who work with our Children’s and Teen Programs. There were so many special moments that reminded us of the reasons we work or volunteer at the Lighthouse. Again this summer our students had the wonderful experience of having “real work in the community,” learning to dance at Arthur Murray Palm Harbor, and making new friends. We were also fortunate to have a visit from Congressman Gus Bilirakis and State Representative Richard Corcoran, who shared great wisdom with our teens. The Congressman said “We can’t let disability stop us. We can overcome any challenge if we work hard.” Please continue reading this newsletter for stories about our programs and how they impacted everyone!
We were so honored on June 24, 2012 to receive the Outstanding Community Service Organization Award from the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce. Thank you to the Chamber and our community for recognizing the Lighthouse’s commitment to serving visually impaired persons. Many of the pictures in this issue are courtesy of Photos by J David and Pink Dane Studios, Inc. Thank you to our wonderful photographers who donate their services and to everyone who donates and supports persons with vision impairments! To learn about the Lighthouse and what we do on a daily basis, please visit our website, “friend” us on Facebook or call us to arrange a tour. We love sharing our mission and vision for independence for all who are blind and visually impaired!
And here’s some Cool News! Progressive Air Systems is offering 5% up to the 1st $2,000 of all service calls, tune ups & new installs to be donated to the Lighthouse in your name! Just mention this promotion when calling Progressive Air at (727) 847-3898.
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Inside this Edition
- 2012-13 Little Lighthouse Babies & Kids’ Programs Receive Partial Funding
- Summer Fun and Learning for the Kids & Teens
- A Parent’s Perspective: Her Transitioning Son
- People Making A Difference
- Growing Independence in the Garden
- Donors’ Corner
- About Us
The Lighthouse is very excited to announce four grant awards that will help fund our 2012-13 Babies and Children’s Programs! Thank you to the following organizations who have provided grant funds to help fill some of the funding gaps—your grants are being used to pay for direct service provided to our babies and children, program materials and transportation:
- BJ’s Charitable Foundation
- Community Foundation of Hernando County
- Florida Division of Blind Services DSO
- Nativity Lutheran Church/David & Dorothy Marie Trompeter Foundation
Even with this wonderful funding, we are experiencing significant gaps in meeting financial needs. The approximate cost is $5,000 per baby and their family/care giver. This provides individual and intensive services and training to our visually impaired and blind babies. The Lighthouse receives about half of the funds needed from the State, which covers only some of our babies. Currently our Children’s Program, which serves ages 5 to 13, has no permanent funding. We offer specialized help and services to the child, their parents, and teachers, to optimize the child’s living potential. Last year the Lighthouse served 21 babies and 11 young children. As long as referrals keep coming in, we will never say “Wait.”
Above pictures, from the left:
- Norah (1) learning to use the vision she has.
- Jacob (4) developing pre-literacy skills using a book with Braille overlays.
- Robert (8) building confidence and a craft.
- Brian & Lester (both 10) enjoying an educational large print game.
In this newsletter, we have included a summary of our 2012 Kids’ Camp. An in-depth story about one of our very special babies will be provided in the next issue of LVIB IN TOUCH.
We had a wonderful summer with our Kids’ Camp and intensive Teen Program. The goal of our Kids’ Camp is to support our visually impaired children with the development of independent living skills while providing fun and recreation. The goal of our Summer Teen Program is to provide our visually impaired teens with an opportunity to learn about and explore a variety of career options, experience real work in the community, develop computer and technology skills, and work on daily living skills like cooking and house-keeping.
We had a really fun time with our kids at Kids’ Camp this summer. We laughed a lot because you know kids just say the funniest things. We worked on daily living skills, such as some basic meal preparation skills and cleaning up after yourself, and we played games and went on some fun field trips. I have to say that if you mix food coloring together, you do not get a very pretty color—but the boys thought it was great fun anyway. We have several activities coming up over the next year for our 5 to 13–year–olds. So if you have a child who is visually impaired in this age group, please call us for more information and get involved. Your kids will have a great time.
A really important part of the Lighthouse Summer Teen Program, and the one most of our teens say is their favorite, is the paid work experience. The Florida Division of Blind Services provides each student who demonstrates the readiness to work with pay for doing a work experience. The Lighthouse works with local organizations to arrange meaningful work experiences for our teens. It is important that each teen works like any other employee. These first jobs are not just for learning the job tasks; they are about learning to manage time, socialize appropriately, respond appropriately to supervision and feedback, and manage the physical strain of real work. We want our teens to have a real understanding of what it means to be on time and stay on task, do a time sheet, do clerical work, and/or do whatever tasks are part of the job. It’s also important they realize just because they cannot see well doesn’t mean they don’t have to do the full job—they just need to find ways or adaptive techniques/technology that make it possible to do the job. Thank you to SPCA Suncoast, the United Ways of Pasco and Hernando, Deaf & Hard of Hearing Services, and New Freedom for providing our students with real “work experiences.” The teens worked hard and we are told they did a great job.
Check out some of our pictures from the teen program:
Submitted by Lynn Huyck
Not expecting much, anticipating boredom and not fitting in, he kept his head down on the table and was not sure he wanted to participate on the first day. His thoughts were, “This will be just like school. Sitting, listening and not doing much.” Oh was he in for a surprise.
He found out he was not alone. Others had vision impairments like him. He wasn’t going to be singled out, questioned about why he wore sunglasses all of the time or a hat, or why he needed such large print or a magnifying device. He was immediately accepted as he was. Understood without question.
This brought his head up; interest grew. Day three brought dance lessons. The whole way home I heard, “Mom, I really like dance. The instructor said I was a fast learner and good. I learned the fox trot. Mom…” I hadn’t heard him so excited about anything to that degree in a long, long time. By the end of the first week we were hearing words like friends (plural!), fun, good, yes, and tomorrow.
We also saw a young man, who severely struggles with waking up in the morning, actually WANTING to get up. The Eighth Wonder of the World. Really. We saw pride of ownership and responsibility come. He was so proud of the choices he was allowed to make for work apparel on shopping day. He came home to try it all on for us, including his first tie. Pictures were taken the first day of work. A man in the prime of his youth.
The first paycheck came. A huge grin split his face when he was picked up that day, money in hand. He had earned it. Pride in one’s work. Something he did on his own. Of course, first stop: Target, to get a game he wanted; the rest put into savings. Immediate rewards.
Lighthouse had accomplished in five weeks what did not happen in nine months of school. Motivation to try. Real life experiences. Camaraderie. Challenges worth striving for. Self-worth and integrity. A changed life. We no longer have a son who has his head on the table. We have one who knows there are things worth trying, working for and living for.
Thank you to all supporters of the Lighthouse—your good work, volunteerism and donations make all things possible. Thank you also to the entire staff for their monumental efforts in advocating these changes. Lighthouse’s Teen School-to-Work Transition Summer Camp has been instrumental in changing, molding and uplifting the life of our son.
Submitted by Greg Lindberg
Pat Lopez may not have good sight, but she has a vision—a vision to help others with vision impairment lead better lives. Lopez is a vision rehabilitation teacher at the Lighthouse. A native of Guatemala, she moved to the U.S. at age 17 and lived in several cities around the country since then. She moved to Pasco County in 2009. Lopez earned a Bachelor’s in Visual Disabilities at Florida State University and worked for five years as a vision teacher in public schools. “I really enjoyed working with young adults and realized there was a strong need for developing everyday skills,” she said.
Pat was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa in her early 20’s. “The constant adjustment to a degenerative disease is emotionally and physically draining,” she said. But she also stated that your attitude and your support system make all the difference.
She has taught at the Lighthouse for three years and currently teaches in the Independent Living Skills Program. She teaches blind individuals everyday living skills to help them live more independently. She also teaches clients how to use computers with assistive technology and specialized software. When clients discover that she is blind, Lopez said they start offering to help her. “The first day of class, students are trying to help me with everything because they know I’m blind,” she said. But this has a reverse effect on the students as it makes them do more things for themselves. Pat has also worked with the Lighthouse Teen Transition Program. This summer she worked on cooking skills, which the students always enjoy. They prepared a variety of foods, including home-made pizza and spaghetti.
As Lighthouse’s only Spanish-speaking instructor, Lopez also works with all clients who speak Spanish—which is an ever increasing population in the area. She worked with a Venezuelan woman in her 60’s. The client had no experience with computers, but after learning JAWS (a text-to-speech software program), she was excited to be emailing her family back home every day. Another client was a middle-aged father who had been diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa and thought there was nothing he’d be able to do. He also had no computer knowledge. Good news, this client is now a full-time computer tech. Lopez said his great attitude helped him achieve his goals.
According to Lopez, the most rewarding thing about her job is communication with students and seeing them blossom from one class to another. “Patty is a great role model for our clients,” said Sylvia Perez, Executive Director. “She is always prepared, professional and positive.” Chuck Worthen, a Lighthouse Board member and volunteer in the Independent Living Skills Program, said, “All of her clients have nothing but praise for her dedication to improving their lives.” Based on her own experience, Lopez encourages visually impaired individuals to reach out. “The Lighthouse is here to make people realize there are opportunities. It’s just about finding them.”
Lighthouse employee, Willard “Will” Fenner passed away June 23, 2012. He was seasonally employed at the Hernando Lighthouse since November 1999. Rest in peace to an old friend, a man of many talents, infinite patience and a life view we could all learn so much from. Job well done buddy. You will be very much missed.
David was a student of the Lighthouse’s Independent Living Skills Program in 2011. After completing classes, he joined the Lighthouse Garden Club. The Club meets once a month, but David comes daily. He has taken on the responsibility for the beautification of the property. As a volunteer, David has raised funds and in-kind gifts that make the garden wonderful. The garden helps David feel useful and needed. He says “Loneliness is the biggest problem with blindness.” The Lighthouse thanks David for being a devoted and generous volunteer. Thanks also to Elizabeth Benson, David Brevoort, Tom Gentile, Greg Kirk, and our local Lowe’s, for your generous donations; and to Heidi Rizzo, for your volunteer time—all of which has made the garden a sanctuary for David and other visually impaired persons. We are having a Plant & Book Sale this fall—please see the Upcoming Events for details.
6. Donors’ Corner
The Lighthouse sends a special thanks to the Florida Division of Blind Services, the United Way of Pasco and the United Way of Hernando for their continued funding of the Independent Living Skills Programs. We were also very fortunate to get three beautiful new vans with significant support from the Florida Department of Transportation. These vans are used to transport clients to Lighthouse services. In addition, we have received partial funding for The Lighthouse Opportunity Center employment initiative from National Industries for the Blind. The Lighthouse would also like to recognize:
- Recent donors of $500+ (in addition to those identified above): Hernando Computer Club, Park Research Partners LLC, Pasco Aging Network and Charles & Julia Jackson.
- Friends of the Lighthouse Program Update: $1,000+ in donations: Dr. Rao & Prameela Musunuru, James E. Pohler & Henry A. Prillaman; 1st Year Anniversaries: Carl Wiegand, Daisy Hogue; 2nd Year Anniversaries: Sandy & Victoria Barley, Dr. John Mann; Upcoming Anniversaries: Olga Zerbis, Mr. & Mrs. Doug Martin, William & Ruth Crane; New Members: Kenneth Neubig, Frank & Thanis Kane, and Marilyn Kaufman. Thank you to all our members for being great friends!
Thank you to everyone who so generously support the Lighthouse. We apologize if we’ve missed anyone. A full list of supporters can be found on our website. If you would like to become a donor or a volunteer, please contact the Lighthouse!
7. Upcoming Events–Rain or Shine!
Plant & Book Sale
Proceeds from the sale are used to provide services to individuals who are visually impaired and blind.
- Friday, October 5, 2012, 9am-1pm
- Brooksville Lighthouse, 6492 California St., Brooksville
- No RSVP required
White Cane Awareness Day*
Sponsored by Amanda Murphy
- Friday, October 12, 2012, 11am-1pm
- Delta Woods Park, 3400 Deltona Blvd., Spring Hill
- RSVP: email@example.com | 352-754-1132
*Please inquire about other sponsorship opportunities!
Children’s Fall Festival
Sponsored by Community Foundation of Hernando County & BJ’s Charitable Foundation
- Saturday, October 27, 2012 10am-1pm
- For visually impaired children and their families
- RSVP: firstname.lastname@example.org | 727-815-0303
Thank you for supporting the Lighthouse!
The mission of the Lighthouse is to provide persons who are visually impaired with the skills needed to achieve their maximum independence. We provide free, individualized rehabilitation services to persons who are visually impaired and their families. We are designated by the Florida Division of Blind Services as the only community resource provider of vision rehabilitation and supported employment services in Pasco, Hernando and Citrus Counties. We also provide supported employment services in Pinellas County.
Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)3 charity, registration number CH662. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 1-800-435-7352 WITHIN THE STATE. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. Official registration can also be viewed online.
The Lighthouse is funded in part by the Department of Education, Division of Blind Services, by the United Way of Pasco, the United Way of Hernando, and by Pasco County Commissioners. We also depend on fundraising and donations from clubs, businesses and private citizens in order to meet the need for services.
Only 8% of American households include nonprofits in their estate plans. Imagine the impact it would have on our community if everyone made a bequest to their favorite nonprofit! The Lighthouse is asking you to consider making a bequest that will have a lasting effect on persons who are visually impaired and blind. Following is a generalized codicil for your use. If possible, please provide a signed copy to the Lighthouse in order to assist with the execution of your final wishes.
“I devise and bequeath to Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Inc., a nonprofit agency registered in the State of Florida, the sum of $ ______ (or otherwise describe the gift; often a percentage of the estate is designated) to be used in the furtherance of its mission and general purposes.”
In order to create a valid last will and testament, a donor should always obtain the assistance of an attorney.
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LVIB IN TOUCH is a free quarterly newsletter produced and distributed by Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind.
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