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.