Our agency’s 2015-2016 Annual Report,Turning Challenges into Opportunities, is now available. You can click here to access this document. The report outlines our impact in the community, our client outcomes and describes how we as an agency also challenged ourselves to improve our overall organizational health and service delivery.
What we didn’t share in this report, however, also provides interesting reading and food for thought so we thought we’d share some more amazing statistics with you here. When compared with 2014-2015 we found that:
-The number of escorted transportation rides increased by 6%
-The number of children receiving free vision screenings increased by 27%
-The number of children benefitting from agency educational programs increased by 8%
-The number of adults receiving free vision screenings increased by 28%
-The number of adults benefitting from agency educational programs increased by 17%
-The number of casework hours of service increased by 8%
-The number of patients visiting our Low Vision Clinics increased by 113%
And the number of people attending community presentations about eye health and safety increased by 253%
Wow! Doug Yingling, Executive Director, thanks all of the agency’s paid and volunteer staff for their strong efforts to move our mission forward.
But without the support of Our Friends, none of our work would have been possible. So we heartily thank all of you who contributed monetary gifts or gifts of goods and services to help us continue our mission of improving the lives of people with vision loss and promoting healthy vision in the community!
If you wish to receive a copy of the 2015-2016 Annual Report in accessible format please contact us.
Here is a summer activity FYI for youth ages 16 and 17 with vision loss. Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills, Michigan is offering a Summer Experience for Teens. This is a free residential program which allows participants to spend time with a friendly dog, do lots of fun indoor and outdoor activities and learn how to use the new HumanWare Trekker Breeze+GPS device. The camp dates are June 23-30, 2017. For more information and an application go to http://www.LeaderDog.org or call 888-777-5332.
Each year the agency-sponsored District 14-K Lions needs event provides much needed funds to support the work of the Center for Vision Loss. This year, in a break from the traditional Needs Nights of 45+ years, the event became a Needs Breakfast held on Saturday, October 22, 2016 at the Northampton Community Memorial Center, Northampton.
Members from 26 Lions, Lioness and Leo clubs in Lehigh and Northampton Counties attended along with Marsha Johnston, District Governor, and Karen Brady, Immediate Past District Governor. The Center for Vision Loss sponsors this event to thank the Lions for their support in the previous fiscal year and to accept support for the current fiscal year. In 2015-2016, Lions’ giving totaled $50, 344.89. Support for 2016-2017 was off to a great start with $35,250 pledged or given at the breakfast.
Lions Clubs have been integral supporters of vision loss programs since 1925 when Helen Keller addressed a national Lions convention and asked them to become “Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness.” In 1928, the Bethlehem Lions Club founded the blind association in Northampton County and the Allentown Lions Club founded the blind association in Lehigh County. Over time these blind associations changed names and eventually consolidated operations into the Center for Vision Loss in January, 2010. For the past 88 years, the Lions have maintained their strong support for local, national and international vision loss issues and we thank them for continuing as important partners in helping us provide valuable services and programs to improve the lives of people with vision loss and promote healthy vision in the our community.
The Center for Vision Loss’s third annual “A Taste of the Shadows” vision loss awareness fundraising dinner was held on Thursday, October 13, 2016 at the Green Pond Country Club, Bethlehem. Our agency developed this dinner as a unique way to understand the impact of vision loss and how the programs and services we offer can help people live independently and improve the quality of their lives.
85 guests first enjoyed a Gathering Hour replete with hors d’oeuvres, a wine tasting by Franklin Hill Vineyards and a craft beer tasting by the Allentown Beverage Co. They also tried their luck at the mystery box raffle, a new addition this year which complemented the evening’s theme of vision loss. All the raffle items were presented in beautifully wrapped boxes and guests had to guess the contents of each box by reading a clever description. Raffle prizes were contributed by businesses such as Stroudsmoor Country Inn, The Dining Dog, Yacco’s, Liztech Jewelery, West End Yoga, Cleo’s and many more.
The true essence of the evening began when the sighted guides assigned to each table gathered their guests together and asked them to wear blindfolds for the conga line walk to their seats in the dining room. The blindfolded guests first enjoyed chopped salad, chicken breast with tarragon-mustard sauce, risotto and broccoli. Following the entrée, the guests removed their blindfolds and tried eating their pumpkin mousse while wearing glasses simulating vision with macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts and diabetic retinopathy–the eye diseases that affect many older adults.
Following dinner, Executive Director Doug Yingling took to the podium. He stated that he hoped everyone would come away from the evening with a new understanding and a positive perspective about living with vision loss. Doug then announced the premiere of the Center for Vision Loss’s new community video. It was developed and produced by Al Kalbach, Daymarks Productions and features stories from 6 clients whose lives have been positively touched by the agency’s programs and services. Doug presented Al with a Certificate of Recognition for his work.
Doug then introduced the agency’s 2016 Accessibility Champions. Accessibility Champions are chosen because they have provided outstanding accessible opportunities for visually impaired individuals to get involved in various aspects of community life. This year’s recipients all developed audio-described and/or tactile opportunities to bring together those with vision loss and the local arts scene. They included the Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley, Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum, Lehigh Valley Arts Council and Stephen W. Cunic, Photographer.
We say a hearty “thank you” to our staff and volunteer sighted guides for the evening: Sarah Swartz, Jennifer Pandolfo, Amy Crowe, Dawn Sellers, Valerie Sellers, Jeanette Bateman, Cheryl Petrakovich, Byron Jackson, Sarah Morse, Brian Shell and Ruthie Asmus. They all provided the much needed support at each table for our blindfolded diners. Our sponsors also deserve our appreciation: Lehigh Eye Specialists, Minuteman Press of the Lehigh Valley, Inova Technologies, Buckno, Lisicky & Company, Fox Optical & Gallery, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Morgan Stanley, Michael Wambaugh in memory of Joyce Wambaugh, ESSA Bank & Trust, HMK Insurance, Alan Kunsman Roofing & Siding, Inc., and Lang Faylor Chomo & Company.
On Monday, June 13, 2016, our agency’s Monroe County Office hosted “Lunch in the Shadows,” a low vision awareness event at Mullally’s Clubhouse Café, Stroudsburg. This unique event combined delicious food followed by a training program to introduce our guests to ways they could created more positive interactions with individuals who are visually impaired. Participants represented various fields of employment including higher education and senior care along with folks from the community-at-large.
The “catch” to this experience was that the diners were asked to don blindfolds to simulate total vision loss for a short time. A sighted guide at each table provided support, information and encouragement. During the training session which followed everyone participated in hands-on activities which included wearing glasses to simulate the most common vision loss diseases including macular degeneration, cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy. They were given tasks such as reading a newspaper or a page from the phone book and writing out a check. The training ended with the group trying their hand at the important technique of sighted guide.
We had many great comments from our participants about their event experience. They indicated that they felt better prepared and more comfortable to assist people with vision loss when asked, and that overall they gained a new appreciation for the way people with vision loss function on a daily basis. For more coverage click here to view a video of the event by Channel 69.
The Center for Vision wants to thank everyone who helped make this event possible. Venue proprietor Patrick Mullally and his staff were very accommodating and prepared a delicious menu. As always our team of staff and volunteer sighted guides–Dawn, Sarah, Cheryl M., Amy, Byron, Beverly and Cheryl P.–provided the right amount of support and information to make our diners comfortable. Our sponsors included Pocono Medical Center, Bushkill Smithfields Lions Club, Jerry & Annie Messina, Aging & Disabilities Resource Center, Dr. Anthony Silvett, Rep. Rosemary Brown, Rep. David Parker and Rep. Jack Rader.
On Monday, April 18, 2016, our Board of Directors and Endowment Foundation Board hosted a Helen Keller Society Happy Hour at Randall’s on the Orchard. Board members Tom Reilly and Todd Donnelly were our event sponsors. Randall’s, with its lovely view, delicious food and comfortable atmosphere proved the perfect location to introduce new friends to the Helen Keller Society and to thank current donors for their continued support.
The Helen Keller Society was developed by our agency as a legacy giving society to help sustain our mission in the future. As such it is part of our Endowment Foundation. Tom spoke eloquently of the agency’s need for this kind of legacy giving. He noted that it is often difficult for an organization such as ours to raise money because, while our work is worthwhile and important to our clients, it is sometimes difficult for donors to understand that the achievements our clients accomplish are most often taken in small steps. Nevertheless even one small step can yield a big impact in coping with vision loss and getting back independence and quality of life.
Interested donors can join the Society by giving gifts of cash of $1,000 or more or gifts by bequest, life insurance, stocks/securities or by retirement accounts. For more information contact Karen Z. Huetter, Development Director at 610-433-6018 x 241 or
Attention Braille readers! The Center for Vision Loss has several used Perkins Braille writers available to our clients. The Braille writer would be of no cost to you, however, they all need some repairs and you would be responsible to pay for those repairs. We would be happy to direct you to a repair person and the price of the repairs will vary depending on the service provider. Contact Rita at 610-433-6018 x 225 or is you are interested. Rita will then share the contact info for the repair persons at that time. Please also be advised that you must pick up the Braille writer from our office in Allentown–we cannot ship this item.
Attention all shoppers! You now can become part of AmazonSmile and indicate that the Center for Vision Loss is the charity you wish to have supported when you shop at Amazon. The Amazon Foundation will donate a percentage of the amount you spend as a gift to our agency. Please know that this gift is not taken from your purchase price but is a separate amount given strictly by the Foundation. It is easy to do. Go to our Home Page and click on the AmazonSmile box. Then follow the prompts and you are all set to go. The Center for Vision Loss appreciates the designation as your charity. Thank you and happy shopping!
The Center for Vision Loss reminds all Lions, Lioness and Leo Clubs in District 14-K that Needs Night 2015 will be held on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. The location is the Northampton Community Memorial Hall, 1601 Laubach Avenue, Northampton, PA, 18067. The event begins with a social hour from 5-6 pm, followed by dinner at 6 pm and the program. Come meet the staff of the Center for Vision Loss and hear about the work of the agency over the past year. Our new 2015 Transit, made possible by contributions from District 14-K clubs, will also be on display. A packet of information has been sent to all club presidents and secretaries. You can also download copies of this paperwork from the 14-K website at www.lions14k.org. RSVP your attendance plans to 610-433-6018, x. 241 by September 22, 2015. Remember that 2 members from each club can attend as our guests.
The Center for Vision Loss is grateful to the continued support of the Lions District 14-K and looks forward to seeing club members at this annual event.
On July 26, 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act was signed into law. This landmark civil rights law prohibited discrimination against people with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation and all public and private places open to the general public.
Over the past 25 years, Lehigh Valley agencies and organizations have worked diligently to advocate and remove barriers to people with disabilities Beginning July 26, 2015, many of these groups have joined together with the Lehigh Valley Arts Council (http://www.lvartscouncil.org) to create Arts & Access (http://www.ARTSandACCESS.org), a series of events highlighting the accessibility and inclusiveness of the region’s art and culture. On July 24, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network is hosting a free launch party with music, cake and ice cream on its south Allentown campus to encourage the public’s participation in Arts & Access events as well as support other upcoming initiatives. Some other collaborators include the Lehigh Valley Center for Independent Living, Center for Vision Loss and the Partnership for a Disability Friendly Community.
Then on July 26, an audio-described performance of Hello, Dolly! for those who are visually impaired will be held at Muhlenberg College. Audio-description incudes a “describer” who uses natural pauses in the action of a play or musical to provide detailed visual images via an electronic transmitter to audience members who are blind or visually impaired. These audience members wear a headset. For more information go to http://www.muhlenberg.edu/main/academics/theatre-dance/smt. Audio-description has been a great help to those with significant vision loss. People can understand better what is boing on and no longer find themselves being bored because they can’t see the nuances of what is happening on stage. The Center for Vision Loss is proud to say that we have worked diligently for the past few years to promote the use of this feature in the Lehigh Valley.
Obviously we all want the good works of the ADA to continue because it benefits all of us. Good Shepherd invites everyone to sign the ADA Pledge, a petition that’s a part of a nationwide effort to promote renewed support of the ADA and its goals. To sign the pledge go to http://www.ADAanniversary.org/pledge.
The Center for Vision Loss has been busy over the past few weeks and we wanted to take this opportunity to bring you up-to-date on our latest happenings:
VOLUNTEER RECOGNITION was held on Thursday, May 7. We feted our volunteers with an Oriental party theme resplendent with various kinds of Oriental decorations and wonderful Oriental cuisine. The following volunteers were presented with Appreciation Awards: Cheryl Petrakovich-“Annie’s Angel Award” given to the volunteer who has made the greatest impact on improving a customer’s quality of life; Joseph Chunko-“Looking Beyond Vision Award” given to a volunteer or board member who has been the most active in promoting the agency in a positive light within the community; Sarah Zieff Morse-“Knight in Shining Armor Award” given to a volunteer who has shown the most versatility in service and comes to our rescue when the need arises; James Van Horn-Helen Keller Award for Independence given to a blind/visually impaired customer who has been most supportive of the projects of the agency exemplifying independence and new vision; Peter Carr-“Anne Sullivan Sprit Award” given to a volunteer or staff member whose deep commitment to helping others exemplifies the spirit of Anne Sullivan’s teaching and friendship and Amy Crowe, “Helping Hands Community Outreach Award” given to the volunteer who has worked tirelessly to benefit those with vision loss. Thank you to all the winners-we couldn’t do our work without your time, abilities and friendship. And thank you to all of our staff and friends who helped make our Gathering Room the perfect representation of Oriental life!
LIONS’ FISHING DAY was held on Saturday, May 9 at Mike Schmalzer’s Pond north of Bath. This annual day of fun, food and fishing is sponsored by the Moore Township Lions Club. Great fun was had by all from the sumptuous breakfast to the delicious lunch–with some fish caught in between! Thank you to all the Lions and other volunteers who make this event something our customers look forward to every year.
A SOCK HOP was held on Saturday, May 16, sponsored by the Emmaus Lioness-Lions Club. This is a new event which was enjoyed by customers and Lions and Lionesses alike. Our Gathering Room resounded with 50’s-style music and good food. Where else could you go on a Saturday night to relive those oldies but goodies of the record world! Thank you, to all who helped make this event successful and, a little birdie told us, that the Sock Hop will probably be reprised in 2016!
MONROE BINGO fundraiser was held on Sunday, May 17 at the West End Fire Company, Brodheadsville, to benefit our Vision Rehabilitation Services in Monroe County. This is the second year for this event which is superbly organized by Carla Nemeroff, a Monroe County Office caseworker. A great time was had by all the players and we give a big shout-out to the donors who provided such wonderful basket raffle items, the Monroe Office staff and other volunteers who assisted Carla, and the folks at the West End Fire Company. It was a great day to play bingo, have fun and support the Center for Vision Loss!
MEDICAL STUDENTS from the Lehigh Valley Health Network visited the Lehigh Valley Office on Thursday, May 28. These 10 students are just beginning their medical studies as part of LVHN’s partnership with the University of Florida. The students have been learning about local community resources which could eventually help the patients they will be treating. The students were a receptive and delightful group and appreciated knowing about blindness/visually impairment and the kinds of programs and services we provide and stated that this is the kind of useful information that will benefit them when they take their work into a clinic setting.
HIGHMARK WALK FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY stepped out in a lively manner on Saturday, May 30. Held at DeSales University for the first time, 17 walkers from the Center for Vision Loss along with many other agency donors raised $5,340 to support our children’s summer Camp I CAN!. Team Schiaffo raised the most money as a team and Melanie Huth, Lehigh Valley caseworker, won the casework challenge. The Center for Vision Loss has participated in the Highmark Walk since its beginning 11 years ago. We thank Highmark very much for supporting this fundraising event which hosted 29 non-profits this year. Because of Highmark’s sponsorship, all of the participating agencies can keep 100% of the money they raise to support their efforts in the community.
BETTER LIGHT FOR BETTER SIGHT was held on Wednesday, June 17. This program, facilitated by Vision Rehabilitation teacher Dianne Michels, provided a forum in which our customers could discover how a variety of light sources can help them use their remaining vision to complete everyday tasks. This worthwhile program was extra special because it was streamed live to other Pennsylvania Association for the Blind agencies across the Commonwealth.
The Green Pond Country Club, Bethlehem, was the scene of the Center for Vision Loss’s first blindness awareness dinner, A Taste of the Shadows, on October 14, 2014. Seventy-four friends, sponsors, customers, staff and volunteers premiered this dining in the dark event where guests were asked to eat a four-course meal while wearing blindfolds. The evening opened with a reception featuring tasty hors d’oeuvres, a wine-tasting by Franklin Hill Vineyards and the sweet sounds of the Celtic harp played by Maddie Link, a high school junior who is visually impaired.
The agency’s sighted guides then gathered the guests into their table seating groups to share information about the dinner portion of the event. All were asked to wear blindfolds to simulate loss of vision. Each guide led their table into the dining room in conga line fashion and individually seated their guests. They explained how the table was set and provided tips on how a person with a visual impairment finds their plates, utensils, water glass, coffee cup and more. Dinner was a four-course taste treat featuring cold pumpkin soup, kale salad, a chicken or salmon entrée and chocolate cups filled with mousse for dessert. The dining room resounded with chatter and laughter as guests were challenged to perform their everyday task without the benefit of their vision.
Executive Director Doug Yingling took to the podium following the meal. He noted that loss of vision is challenging at any age because it impacts an individual’s quality of life and independence. He thanked the guests for giving up their sight for a short time to experience how challenging vision loss can be and indicated that he hoped they would leave the event with a new perspective.
Brian Drake, Green Pond’s Banquet and Catering Manager, talked about the menu. He noted that the food was prepared to offer the best taste experience using many ingredients vital for good eye health such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C and E, and lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin.
Rita Lang, the Center for Vision Loss’s Manager of Innovative Programming and Volunteer Coordinator, who is herself visually impaired, then invited guests to comment on their experiences. Comments ranged from “I felt very uncomfortable at first but now I realize what a person with vision loss goes through every day” to “I now better appreciate the work of the Center for Vision Loss in helping people with vision loss improve their independence in performing daily tasks.”
We heartily thank our wonderful event sponsors: viamedia, Air Products, Minuteman Press of the Lehigh Valley, Fox Optical & Gallery, LLC, TD Bank, Advanced Family Eye Care, Buckno, Lisicky & Company, Lehigh Eye Specialists, Lehigh Valley Health Network and Ed & Rosalie Vogrins.
Jefferson Elementary School in the Allentown School District stands one block away from the Center for Vision loss. Thousands of students have walked through the hallways, played in the gymnasium and been exposed to life-long learning here over the past 100 plus years of the school’s existence. Each fall, school administrators invite local businesses to attend an Annual Breakfast where they share information about the school’s needs and challenges and encourage the participants to become one of the school’s Community Partner of the Month.
This September, Dawn Sellers, Center for Vision Loss’s Manager of Community Outreach and Special Projects, attended that Annual Breakfast. As part of her duties, Dawn provides free vision screenings for the children at Jefferson’s kindergarten registrations. This year, she also signed Center for Vision Loss up as the September Community Partner of the Month. When the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind encouraged all of its member agencies to consider doing a special project for White Cane Day on October 15, Dawn immediately contacted Renee Mosser, assistant principal, to find out if she would be interested in having Center for Vision Loss talk to the students about blindness and white cane awareness as part of their studies about the importance of respecting people who are different from them. Mrs. Mosser loved the idea and told Dawn that her audience would be the winning classrooms of a “best behaved classroom” challenge among the 4th and 5th grade classes.
Dawn consulted with Rita Lang, the Center for Vision Loss’s Manager of Innovative Programing, who herself is visually impaired. Together they decided to invite two agency customers, Jeff Gerhard and Dianne Michels, to join them in the school presentations on September 22 and September 29, 2014. The children discovered that this year marked the 55th anniversary of the White Cane Law which celebrates the White Cane as a symbol of a blind or visually impaired person’s ability to achieve a full and independent life. Both Jeff and Dianne also brought their guide dogs. Jeff stressed the importance of not distracting a guide dog because they are working. He also noted that the white cane is an obstacle finder while a dog is an obstacle avoider. Dianne commented that she chooses to use a guide dog rather than a white cane because she likes to walk faster and feel more independent. Rita, who strictly uses a white cane, talked about orientation and mobility and learning to read Braille. The students particularly loved the fact that Rita attended Jefferson as a student!
The group then asked the children to close their eyes and imagine standing on the sidewalk in front of their home when it was time to go to school. Which way should they turn? How many streets must they cross? Are there traffic lights or stop signs at the intersections? Would they hear a car coming? Are the streets busy? Could they find their classroom in the school? Would they feel frightened or disoriented in a crowded hallway? The final question was how many doorways do you pass when you go to the lavatory? Not many children got it right!
the culmination of the White Cane Day project was a poster contest. The children were invited to answer the question “When I see a person with a white cane it means…? and then draw a picture to depict what they had learned.
Forty students took up the challenge. Center for Vision Loss staff reviewed all the colorful and creative entries. On October 21, 2014, Dawn, Rita and Executive Director Doug Yingling visited the winners’ classrooms with Mrs. Mosser. They presented the top 6 artists with a prize package that included a Center for Vision Loss Dr. Optical Coloring Book, activity calendar, construction paper, a paint box, crayons and trivia game cards. The rest of the children who participated in the contest received a box of crayons.
In the eyes of our agency, however, all of the children who took part in this project were winners. They learned about vision loss and the importance of understanding and sensitivity in dealing with people who are not like themselves for whatever reason. We hope that our White Cane Day Project can continue next year at Jefferson School and perhaps spread to other schools, as well.
Camp I CAN!, our first summer day camp for children 7-13 who are blind or visually impaired, literally did end on a high note. Our campers worked together with camp staff to compose and sing a camp song for the last-day-of-camp on Friday, July 31. And sing they did! It was great fun to hear their enthusiasm as they entertained their parents, family and friends.
Camp I CAN!, jointly sponsored by the Center for Vision Loss and the Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services (BBVS), was held from July 21-24 and July 28-31, 2014. The goal of the camp was to introduce the participants to essential orientation and mobility training, lifeskills education and socialization through various interactive activities, crafts and field trips. Each activity was designed around educational interventions geared to each camper’s visual strengths and weaknesses to ensure that they would experience successful outcomes and find activities in which they excelled.
But forget about all of the dry explanation–this camp was FUN! In the morning sessions, the kids would work on their orientation and mobility, vision rehabilitation and lifeskills. Then in the afternoon, they would apply them through interactive activities including field trips. Trout Park, Jordan Lanes, TD Bank, Allentown Fire Department, the Brass Rail and the Lehigh Valley Zoo all captured the attention of our campers.
Our camp was developed by Rita Lang, our Manager of Innovative Programs and Camp Director, along with our caseworkers Gretchen Evans, Lisa Vasquez and Melanie Huth. Alyssa Johnson was the assistant camp director. Guest instructors included John Ford (Orientation and Mobility), Dianne Michaels (Vision Rehabilitation) and Amy Killeen and Jana Lindsay (BBVA Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors). Jeremiah Dubas, Erin Rapp and Amy Crowe provided volunteer support. Staff support included Stephanie Houck, Shirley Moyer, Carla Nemeroff, and Peter Carr. If we left anyone out of this list, we apologize because everyone really pitched in to make the days go by very quickly.
We hope you enjoy the pictures attached to this article. You can find more on our Facebook page at facebook.com/lowvision845 so check it out and don’t forget to like us! And next year be on the lookout for Camp I CAN! 2015–we’ll have some more neat things planned.
On April 23, 2014, Highmark Blue Shield hosted a wonderful event at the Blue Event Center in Bethlehem to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of its signature fundraiser, Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community in the Bethlehem Region. The Center for Vision Loss was one of four non-profit agencies which have participated in this event since its inception in 2005. “Participating in this event has always been a pleasure,” said Karen Huetter, Development Director. “Because Highmark picks up all the Walk’s logistics, marketing and expenses, each non-profit can keep 100% of the money they raise to support their own programs and services. We could not do that otherwise without massive amounts of help. This year our goal is to raise $5,000 to support our new summer camp for kids 7-13 who are blind or visually impaired. The Walk proceeds will make help us make quite an impact.”
This year’s Walk is Saturday, May 31 at SteelStacks in Bethlehem. The 5K Walk begins at 9 am and the 1-Mile Fun Walk at 9:15 am. If you have not already signed up for the Walk, now’s the time to do so by going to www.walkforahealthycommunity.org. It is easy to register and the event itself does not take a great deal of time. You can walk individually, form a team or be a Virtual Walker and support Center for Vision Loss with a donation. If you have any questions, call us at 610-433-6018, x. 241 or email@example.com.
The sounds, tastes and smells of the Hawaiian Islands captured guests at the Center for Vision Loss’s 2014 Volunteer Recognition on Thursday, May 8, 2014. Thanks to the decorating efforts of staff member Stephanie Houck, the Gathering Room in the agency offices became a tropical paradise complete with leis for each volunteer, tiki torches, delicious mocktails, and a few parrots thrown in for good measure.
Rita Lang, Manager of Innovative Programming and Volunteer Coordinator, and Dawn Sellers, Community Outreach Specialist, planned the event to honor the 80+ volunteers which support the agency as Annie’s Angels, vision screeners, office assistants, drivers, activity assistants, special events volunteers, and provide direction for programs and services through board membership and committee work. On behalf of the agency, Rita presented awards to the following volunteers:
Bernie Wolensky, Helping Hands Community Outreach Award; Annette Gozzard, Louis Braille Communications Award; Carla Nemeroff, Anne Sullivan Spirit Award;
Tim Fox, OD, Looking Beyond Vision Award; Barbara Dilliard, Helen Keller Award for Independence; and Rhonda Anderson, Knight in Shining Armor Award. “All of these hard working individuals enhanced the programs and services we provide to the residents of our communities in Lehigh, Northampton, and Monroe Counties, ” said Rita. “We could not forward our mission without their help.”
The Center for Vision Loss congratulates the 2014 award winners and all of our volunteers who add a note of brightness to our lives everyday! If you are interested in exploring volunteer opportunities, please contact Rita Lang at 610-433-6018, x. 231 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martin Lang, President of the Center for Vision Loss Endowment Foundation, is pleased to announce the establishment of The Helen Keller Society to commemorate the Center for Vision Loss’s 85 years of service to the community in 2013. This legacy giving designation is open to people of all backgrounds and incomes who want to make sure that the Center for Vision Loss can continue to provide programs and services which improve the lives of people with vision loss and promote healthy vision in the community.
The Center for Vision Loss feels a warm kinship with Helen Keller, the well-known deaf-blind teacher and humanitarian. Through Miss Keller’s urging, local Lions Clubs formed the two original Lehigh County and Northampton County blind associations in 1928. Throughout her life, Miss Keller encouraged blind and visually impaired individuals to look beyond vision to seek their own level of independence. A gift to The Helen Keller Society will provide this opportunity for many in the future.
The Center for Vision Loss Endowment Foundation is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, established in 1980 to provide funding opportunities based on best investment practices that would ensure the sustainability of the Center for Vision Loss and its mission for the future. Legacy gifts maybe designated for a specific purpose or to remember a person who has held a significant place in your life.
Contributions to The Helen Keller Society may take the form of:
-Gifts of Cash of $1,000 or more
-Gifts by Bequest
-Gifts of Life Insurance
-Gifts of Stocks/Securities
-Gifts by Retirement Accounts
If you are interested in contributing or wish more information please contact:
Martin Lang at 610-439-5040 or email@example.com or
Karen Z. Huetter, Development Director, at 610-433-6018, x. 241 or Karen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested donors should always consult with their attorney, tax advisor or financial advisor to discuss the gift which will best suit their personal circumstances.
Click here to download a printable brochure about The Helen Keller Society.
Lions and Lionesses from District 14-K joined with staff and friends of the Center for Vision Loss to for the traditional Needs Night fundraiser held at the Northampton Community Memorial Hall on October 1, 2013. This year’s event was also a birthday party to celebrate the Center for Vision Loss’s 85th year of service to the blind and visually impaired in the community and to thank the Lions for founding the original blind associations in the Lehigh Valley in 1928.
The celebratory theme was event throughout the evening. Guests were first entertained by the antics of Dan D. Lion (aka Lion Glen Santee), the leader of the District 14-K Klowns. Outfitted in bright red and yellow, Dan D. performed fun magic tricks that got his audience involved. Dan D. was joined by the Lion Mascot played by Don Kaufman who got the guests into a dancing mood. The Center for Vision Loss’s eyeball mascots Dr. Optical (aka Sabrina Vasquez) and Miss Illusion (Greyson Asmus) strolled the party in all their finery. Many guests tried their skill at audible darts, the newest sport for the blind and visually impaired. Players were given a few practice throws then were asked to try again after donning simulator glasses representing one of the four age-related eye diseases–cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. Finally, a power point presentation about the history of the Center for Vision Loss and Lions, researched and developed by summer intern Kenny Morse, rolled throughout the evening.
Then it was on to a delicious family-style dinner followed by the program. Doug Yingling, Executive Director, took to the podium as Emcee for the night. He introduced the head table consisting of Dennis Butz, District Governor; Fred Folland, 1st Vice District Governor; Karen Brady, 2nd Vice District Governor; Gene Polgar, Past International Director; Linwood Gehris, Past District Governor and Lowell Hawk, liaison to the Center for Vision Loss and member of the agency’s Endowment Foundation Board. First remarks were given by Lion Dennis and Lion Gene. Then Doug presented thank you cards to each of the clubs who had contributed gifts to the agency in 2012-2013 totally $50,118. He then talked about the agency and thanked the Lions for having the foresight to found the original blind associations in the Lehigh Valley. He introduced Dorothy Montero, a customer, who shared her experiences with the agency, and 6-year-old Christopher Fullenwider and his family. Christopher’s blindness had been discovered by the agency’s free vision screening program and now the little boy is doing very well with his new glasses.
Needs Night continued with the clubs announcing their pledges and gifts for 2013-2014 which added up to $43,000 as of this writing! Finally Karen Huetter, Development Director, took to the podium for special remarks. She read excerpts from a speech given by Helen Keller to a Lions meeting in 1927 and then presented a special plaque to Dennis Butz honoring the partnership of the agency and the Lions for the past 85 years. The plaque will hang in the agency’s offices in Allentown.
The Center for Vision Loss wishes to thank all the Lions, Lionesses and Leos for their support over the past 85 years and looks forward to many more years of working together to assist the blind and visually impaired in the Lehigh Valley and to support healthy vision in the community. We also wish to thank Debbie Brobst, Manager of the Northampton Community Memorial Hall and her staff for providing a wonderful facility and dining experience for our event.
The Center for Vision Loss participated in the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s “Day of Caring” on Thursday, September 12, 2013. Volunteers from Aetna, Air Products and the Lehigh County Government Center worked together to provide a sighted guide Shopping Day at the Lehigh Valley Mall for our customers. Rita Lang, Manager of Innovative Programs and Volunteer Coordinator, welcomed the group and then led a training on the basic techniques of sighted guide. Then it was off to the Mall where two volunteers were paired with one customer to enjoy shopping, browsing, good conversation and, of course, good food!
This Shopping Day has become a popular annual “Day of Caring” event for Center for Vision Loss customers. “They look forward to the opportunity to have a fun, relaxing day out to see what’s new at the Mall,” said Rita. “The corporate volunteers have a great time learning more about blindness/visual impairment in an informal atmosphere because this experience helps them “see” the Mall from a different point of view.” Thank you, again, volunteers for a job well done!
The sun was warm, the foliage lush and bird calls filled the air when a group of customers from the Center for Vision Loss visited the new Sensory Trail at the Pool Wildlife Sanctuary in Emmaus on September 3, 2013. Designed to stimulate the senses and meet the needs of the visually impaired, the trail was developed by Lehigh Valley Business Group CEO and founder, Kevin Cope and constructed by volunteers including Devin Garcia from Boy Scout Troop 43 who earned his Eagle Badge for his efforts. Doug Yingling, Center for Vision Loss Executive Director, and Rita Lang, Manager of Innovative Programs, were asked to consult on the project which was dedicated on August 27.
The Sensory Trail is located along the top of the Wildlands Conservancy’s Pool Wildlife Sanctuary. Walkers are guided by a rope fence as they take in sounds, smells and feelings along the pathway. Sensory stations with educational panels written in Braille are highlights. There is also a Seasonal Box where visitors can reach in and touch different items such as acorns, a bird’s nest or deer antlers. It is anticipated that the walk will help everyone understand the role that all of our senses play in our lives and how loss of vision can impact our lives.
Agency customers really enjoyed their visit to the Sensory Trail. In addition, they had the opportunity to touch animals in a program in the Conservancy’s Education Center and then go back outside to enjoy a different walk. “Our visit today was the first of many that we will make as a customer group in the future,” stated Rita Lang. “We plan to return for different experiences as the seasons change.”
For more information about the Sensory Trail contact the Wildlands Conservancy, 3701 Orchid Place, Emmaus, PA 18049 at 610-965-4397 or visit www.wildlandspa.org.
Saturday, June 15, 2013 dawned bright and beautiful with a sunny sky filled with fluffy white clouds enhanced by a slight breeze. It was a perfect day for a 5k Walk and a 1 Mile Fun Walk as part of the 8th annual Highmark Wallk for a Healthy Community. Walkers started to gather around 7:30 am, waiting patiently for the 9 am kickoff. Many had donned their official Walk t-shirts and made the rounds of the booths set up by the participating agencies.
In all 28 staff, friends and customers of the Center for Vision Loss, along with two pups, took to the streets. Together they raised $5,273 for the agency! The donations will be used to support Vision Rehabilitation services and programs for our blind and visually impaired customers in Lehigh, Northampton and Monroe Counties.
We are so glad to participate in this event which is organized and supported by Highmark Blue Shield.
As a small non-profit, we never would be able to pull off such a wonderful walk by ourselves and the other 24 participating non-profits heartily agree. And the fact that we all get to keep 100% of the contributions that are raised on our behalf is just amazing.
So thank you Highmark Blue Shield and all of our walkers and donors for making the event a day to remember. While we didn’t quite reach our goal of $6,000 this year, we came darn close. But if you are reading this article and would still like to contribute, please know that we will accept Walk donations until June 30!
On Sunday, May 5, 2013, the Gathering Room at the Center for Vision Loss office was filled with the sounds, colors and tastes of Mexico as staff and volunteers gathered to celebrate at the Annual Recognition event in Cinco de Mayo-style! Rita Lang, Manager of Innovative Programs and Volunteer Coordinator, along with Dawn Sellers, Cummunity Outreach Specialist, worked together to make the afternoon festivities interesting and fun.
Volunteers receiving light-up star awards included:
1. Amy Cincera—Annie’s Angel Award given to the volunteer who has made the greatest impace on improving a customer’s quality of life.
2. Ross Wasielke—Looking Beyond Vision Award given to the volunteer or board member who has been the most active in promoting the agency in a positivie light within the community.
3.Lynn Schiavone—Knight in Shining Armor Award given to a volunteer who has shown the most versatility in service and comes to our rescue when the need arises.
4. Dorothy Montero–Helen Keller Award for Independence given to a blind or visually impaired customer or customer group who has been most supportive of the projects of the agency exemplifying independence and new vision.
5. Estella Saylor—Helping Hands Community Outreach Award given to the volunteer who has worked the most hours in one year.
6. Cheryl Miller—Louis Braille Communication Award given to the individual whose selfless efforts open the door to better communication and involvement for those who are blind or visually impaired.
7. Fay Sheeler—Anne Sullivan Award given to the volunteer whose deep commitment to helping others exemplifies the spirit of Anne Sullivan’s teaching and friendship.
(Standing in picture, above: Lynn, Dorothy, Amy and Fay)
In addition, two volunteers received fun gift baskets: Ken Haines as the newest volunteer and Matt Rubin as the volunteer who travels the longest distance.
Following the awards presentation, volunteers and staff enjoyed playing a trivia game based on the number 5 and then tried their skill at a cactus ring toss game while wearing simulator glasses representing one of the four age-related eye diseases.
The Center for Vision Loss appreciates the talent and time that each volunteer brings to the mission of the agency. They spend countless hours driving customers, working with the customer activity groups, providing office assistance, doing data entry, helping with vision screenings for children and many other tasks. Volunteers–you are truly our shining stars!
Guests first enjoyed a wine bar reception featuring jazz music played by the talented students from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts under the direction of Chet Brown. Silent auction items featuring art, antiques/vintage, accessories and amusements tempted attendees. Guests dined on chicken bruschetta, seared salmon Oscar and eggplant rolatini to a background of soothing piano music provided with compliments by Bob Muth.
Bob Phillips, president of the Center for Vision Loss board, served as master of ceremonies. He was joined by Doug Yingling, Executive Director, and board member Stephanie Olexa who presented Dr. Salerno with his award.
Following Dr. Salerno’s inspirational acceptance talk, various people from the medical and social services community presented the guest of honor with congratulatory remarks. They included Dr. Debbie Salas-Lopez and Dr. Sweety Jain, Lehigh Valley Health Network; Cori Rolon, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley and Dr. Kelly O’Shea Carney from Phoebe Ministries.
Druing the evening, the agency also awarded its Accessiblity Champion Award, a commendation presented to a business or individual who has provided exceptional benefit to those with vision loss. This year’s honorees included C.F. Martin & Co., represented by Dave Evans and Aaron Van Why, and John Kierle. Martin Guitar agreed to make a special Braille guitar for Lt. Brad Snyder who lost his sight in an explosion in September, 2011 while serving in Afganistan while John Kierle, Snyder’s friend, spearheaded the fund raising effort to pay for the instrument.
State Rep. Steve Schlossberg presented all of the honorees with senatorial citations on behalf of Sen. Pat Browne.
Sponsors included the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Minuteman Press of the Lehigh Valley, the Morning Call, AmericaVen, The Lehigh Valley Group of MorganStanley Smith-Barney, Robert & Mary Lou Phillips, RetinaCare Associates, Capital Blue Cross, PPL, PNC Bank, Buckno, Lisicky & Company, Embassy Bank for the Lehigh Valley, Stephanie Olexa & Seth Weber, Ed & Rosalie Vogrins, Hawley Realty, Lang, Faylor, Chomo & Co., Dr. and Mrs. Ihor Fedoriw, Genentech, Lifestyles Over 50, and Lioins Club
We invite you to check back on this site shortly to view a video of Dr. Salerno’s remarks.
On Tuesday, October 2, 2012, representatives from Lions District 14-K Lehigh and Northampton Counties, attended the annual Lions Needs Night dinner to raise money to support the programs and services of the Center for Vision Loss. This event has been sponsored by the Center for Vision Loss for more than 30 years and brings together two community benefit organizations that serve the common cause of helping people who are blind or visually impaired and also promoting healthy vision in the residents of our community.
The location for this event was the Northampton Community Memorial Hall, Northampton. Lions, Lionesses, Leos and first enjoyed demonstrations of low vision aids provided by members of the agency’s social services staff. Then all of the club members, agency staff and customers enjoyed a bountiful meal after which they set about the important task of raising funds. The event’s goal was set at $55,000 and when the evening ended more than $39,000 had been raised from the clubs which attended.
Major participants in the evening, as shown here, included, from left to right: Douglas A. Yingling, Center for Vision Loss Executive Director; Robert Phillips, Center for Vison Loss Board President and Master of Ceremonies for the evening; Lions District Governor Linwood Gehris; Lions First Vice-Governor Dennis Butz; Lions Second Vice-Governor Fred Folland and Immediate Past District Governor Joseph Chunko. Missing from the picture is Lion Lowell Hawk, member of the agency’s Endowment Foundation and the Lions’ liaison to the Center for Vision Loss.
We thank the Lions Clubs of District 14-K for their support since 1928 because without them there actually would be no Center for Vision Loss. The original blind associations in Lehigh and Northampton Counties were founded by local Lions Clubs after Helen Keller spoke at Liberty High School in 1928 and encouraged the Lions Club members in the audience to become “Knights of the Blind in the crusade against darkness.” May we continue to work together to improve the lives of people with vision loss.
On Thursday, September 27, 2012, volunteers from one community organization and one business joined Center for Vision Loss customers to celebrate the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s annual “Day of Caring” organized by the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley. This year’s project was a Shopping Day at the Lehigh Valley Mall. Each volunteer was paired with a customer who is blind or visually impaired. The volunteers first learned the techniques of how to be an effective sighted guide then met their companions at the Mall where they shopped, strolled, chatted, laughed and lunched together.
The 9-member volunteer team consisted of 8 staff members from the United Way’s Community Impact Team and one staff member from Aetna. The United Way Community Impact Team is responsible for managing the investments in the community in the areas of Education, Older Adults and Basic Needs. The Aetna representative works in Aetna’s National Accounts, Dedicated Patient Management.
After the “Day” ended, we couldn’t tell who was happier with their experiences–the volunteers or our customers! On the volunteer side we received comments such as this one from Kayla Lovallo, the United Way’s COMPASS Community School Outreach Coordinator/AmericCorps VISTA: “I thought it was an amazing experience. It is great knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life [if] only for a short period of time. My client simply just wanted to hang out and enjoy the day with good company. It was great just spending time with him, learning about each other, and having meaningful conversations.” Aetna’s Renee Golaszewski stated that “I want to thank your organization for the opportunity to participate in the Day of Caring as it was the most personally rewarding contribution I have done in a very long time although I believe that every day should be a day of caring for our fellow man/woman.”
The shopping project is developed and directed by Rita Lang, the Center for Vision Loss’s Manager of Innovative Programs and Volunteer Coordinator. Rita shared that the loss of indepedence is probably the most negative feeling about vision loss. “When you can no longer just jump into your car to go shopping whenever you please, you can understand that a day at the Mall spent leisurely walking, shopping, going to the spa, lunching and meeting a new friend is so important to our customers,” she said. “Our shopping project helps many of our customers avoid isolation by providing an upbeat, fun experience that restores their self-confidence and their quality of life.”
The Center for Vision Loss thanks everyone who participated in this year’s “Day of Caring” and created a meaningful experience for all.
On June 28, 2011, William Hoos, a Vanda Pharmaceutical representative, visited the Center for Vision Loss to speak to our consumers about a common sleep disorder that affects people who are totally blind. He also provided details on the clinic trials that Vanda Pharmaceuticals is conducting on a medication to help this condition. Click to hear the audio version of this presentation.
Those who are totally blind often find that their sleep patterns differ from the rest of the world. This could be due to a real sleep problem related to the lack of light needed by the body’s internal clock. The name for this condition is Non-24 Hour Sleep-Wake Disorder. Mr. Hoos educated the audience on the characteristics of the condition. He also invited interested audience members to contact Vanda for further information about the study. There is still time to enroll in the study or learn more about it.
There are several ways to get more information: Call 1-888-389-7033; E-mail email@example.com; take a sleep survey directly at www.non24registry.com or visit the Vanda Pharmaceutical website at www.vandapharma.com. There is also a new educational website devoted to information about the sleep disorder at www.24sleepwake.com.
We are pleased to report that in June, 2011, the Center for Vision Loss received a five-year accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services (NAC). NAC is the only independent accrediting agency in its category. It develops standards to promote effective, sound and publicly accountable programs of service that help blind and visually impaired children and adults achieve their full potential.
NAC officials wrote: “This important achievement is an indication of your agency’s dedication and commitment to improving the quality of life for people with vision loss. We hope that the individuals you serve, the governing body and your staff take pride and comfort in displaying the certificate representing your compliance with the NAC standards of performance.”
Preparing the agency for the NAC review team in March, 2011 required many hours of work on the part of the Center for Vision Loss staff team headed by then Director of Vision Services Doug Yingling. Now Executive Director, Doug states that the Center for Vision Loss values the accreditation process because it leads to improved programs for clients and strengthens professional relationships within the field.
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