News

TASTE of the SHADOWS RECAP!

Ninety people joined together on Thursday, October 19, 2017 at the Green Pond Country Club, Bethlehem, to experience vision loss for a short time. Our Taste of the Shadows guests wore blindfolds while they practiced eating their salad and entrée, pouring water and passing rolls and butter then exchanged the blindfolds for simulator glasses during dessert. The simulators provided impressions of macular degeneration, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts–the four age-related eye diseases that affect a large part of the senior population. A sighted guide at each table explained how to navigate through the dinner and provided important information about vision loss and how our agency provides helpful services and programs to improve the quality of life for our clients with vision loss.

Before the dinner, our guests had an opportunity to taste craft beers provided by Penn Beverage & Sales and a variety of wines provided by Franklin Hill Vineyards. Tasty hors d’oeuvres also provided a festive atmosphere as guests checked out the many prizes in our New Focus Raffle.

Following dinner, Executive Director Doug Yingling opened the program by introducing our newest video, “Dorothy’s Story,” created for us by ASR Media Productions. Dorothy is an agency client with a very interesting story to share. You can view this video on the home page of our website here. Then it was time to introduce “The Animal Kindness Project,” the community service project powered by our summer Camp I CAN! participants, 7-13 years of age and underwritten by TeenWorks, an affinity group of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley. Rita Lang described this project which benefitted Animals in Distress. She was joined by Lois Gadek, Board President of Animals in Distress. Then it was time to premier our second video of the evening, “Seeing With Your Heart,” created by Daymarks Productions & Al Kalbach, which captured the essence of this project. You can also view this video on the home page of our website here.

Then it was on to announcing our 2017 Accessibility Champion awards. Accessibility Champions are individuals, businesses or other groups in the community that provide excellent service on behalf of a customer with vision loss. This year’s champions included Cheryl Wallitsch, Young at Heart Entertainment, for providing two fun karaoke nights for our clients, Pocono Whitewater for providing many years of whitewater rafting experiences for our adults and youth, and Easton Walmart Supercenter for providing excellent sighted guide help to our clients when they shop. All received Certificates of Thanks for their efforts.

The Center for Vision Loss thanks all of our sponsors including: Daymarks Productions, The Peak TV, Lehigh Eye SPecialists, BB&T, Morgan Stanley, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Easton Coach, COuntry MEadows, Gross McGinley, Vanda, Inova Technologies, RLB Accountants, City Center Allentown A Definite Edge–Jerry Messina, Elite Sealcoating, Lang, Faylor, Chomo & Co., Lehigh Valley Council of the Blind, Sandpiper Evaulation Associates, Valley National Latina Radio, Laurie Seibert, CPA, CFP, AEP, Ed & Rosalie Vogrins and Michael & Mila Wambaugh.

 

LIONS NEEDS BREAKFAST A ROARING SUCCESS!

The Center for Vision Loss held its annual Lions Needs Breakfast on Saturday, October 14, 2017 at the Northampton Community Memorial Hall. Fifty-two club members from our District 14-K Lions, Lionesses and Leos gathered together with Center for Vision Loss staff to celebrate our continued collaboration for supporting programs and services for people with vision loss in the Lehigh Valley.

Following a hearty buffet breakfast, Executive Director Doug Yingling thanked all of the clubs for their support in 2016-2017 amounting to $53,000. Participating clubs received a thank-you card containing a patch which can be displayed on club flags. A goal of $53,000 has also been set for 2017-2018 and by the end of the breakfast, $43,000 had been raised through club pledges and gifts.

A highlight of the event was the premier of a video produced pro bono by AST Media Productions which focused on how our agency has impacted the live of Dorothy, one of our clients. The video can be viewed here on our website by going to the home page. Doug and various staff then shared agency program successes including braille classes, the Community Service Project to benefit Animals in Distress as part of our Camp I CAN! curriculum and the development of a new community outreach program about eye health and vision loss which targets A Spanish-speaking members of our community.

Lowell Hawk, representing the new NE PA Lions Service Foundation, then presented Doug with a grant of $12,500 which will be used to employ a Vision Rehabilitation Therapist for 200 hours for one year. This grant is so exciting because it gives the agency the capacity to reach more at-risk clients, either individually or in small learning groups, to provide them with the tools they need to improve their lives with vision loss.

The Center for Vision Loss is also pleased to report that Lions are well-represented on the agency board of directors in 2017-2018. IPDG Marsha Johnston is serving in the one-year seat specifically designed for the immediate past district governor. Linwood Gehris is the new Board President. Mike Wambaugh is the new vice-president and Fred Folland is the new treasurer. Lions District 14-K and Center for Vision Loss working together-a combination which cannot be beat! Thank you, Lions!

Lowell Hawk presents foundation check to Doug Yingling


Group celebrates with the Lions Toast

Left to Right: Mike Wambaugh, Fred Folland, Marsha Johnston, Karlene Laub, Don Kaufman, Lowell Hawk and Doug Yingling

 

“SOMETHING WORTH CELEBRATING” CERTAINLY WAS!

The Center for Vision Loss honored its donors at the agency’s “Something Worth Celebrating!” appreciation event on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 from 5:30-7:30 pm at the Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum. The event’s location also celebrated the agency’s 2-yer collaboration with the Teaching Museum to make art accessible to people with vision loss. Museum staff Patricia McAndrew and Denise Stengl and volunteers worked together with Center for Vision Loss staff Rita Lang and clients to develop an audio-description project of selected art in the museum’s collections. Last Fall the Center for Vision Loss presented the Teaching Museum with its 2017 Accessibility Champion Award to acknowledge this effort.
Gary Pave, a member of the Center for Vision Loss Endowment Foundation board welcomed the group. Doug Yingling, agency Executive Director, provided remarks. Ricardo Viera, Lehigh University Art Galleries Director, and Patricia McAndrew also spoke.
Pave then introduced the newest members of the agency’s The Helen Keller Society for Legacy Giving: Andrea and Doug Yingling, in memory of Alfred Yingling and Tim Fox, OD.
As part of the evening’s festivities, guests dined on a selection of tasty hors d’oeuvres and beverages provided by Lehigh Catering Services. They also examined 3-D tactile representations of select museum art works created by Lehigh graphic design students and listened to the audio description using their phones. Thank you, Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum, for recognizing the importance of leveling the playing field in making their art works available to people living with vision loss.

 

2015-2016 ANNUAL REPORT NOW AVAILABLE

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.

 

Leader Dog Summer Experience Camp

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.

 

LIONS’ NEEDS BREAKFAST ROARS WITH SUCCESS!

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.

 

Three members of the Northwestern Lehigh High School Leo Club participated in our annual Needs Event for the first time!

Three members of the Northwestern Lehigh High School Leo Club participated in our annual Needs Event for the first time!

 

Karen Brady, Immediate Past District Governor, Doug Yingling, Center for Vision Loss Executive Director, and Marsha Brady, District Governor

Karen Brady, Immediate Past District Governor, Doug Yingling, Center for Vision Loss Executive Director, and Marsha Brady, District Governor

 

Lions enjoy each other's company at the Needs Breakfast

Lions enjoy each other’s company at the Needs Breakfast

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS FROM “A TASTE OF THE SHADOWS”

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.

Sighted guide Sarah Swartz leads her blindfolded table guests into the dining room

Sighted guide Sarah Swartz leads her blindfolded table guests into the dining room.

Guests dine while wearing blindfolds to simulate vision loss.

taste-2016-sighted-guides

Sighted Guides: Front row: Rita Lang, Manager of Innovative Programming, Sarah Morse, Sarah Swartz, Amy Crowe, Ruthie Asmus and Cheryl Petrakovich Back row: Valerie Sellers, Jenifer Pandolfo, Dawn Sellers, Brian Shell and Byron Jackson

Award Winners:  Randall Forte, Lehigh Valley Arts Council; Gillian Pidcock, Allentown Art Museum; Denise Stangel, Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum; Al Kalbach, Daymarks Productions; Stephen W. Cunic, Photographer

Award Winners: Randall Forte, Lehigh Valley Arts Council; Gillian Pidcock, Allentown Art Museum; Denise Stangel, Lehigh University Art Galleries Teaching Museum; Al Kalbach, Daymarks Productions; Stephen W. Cunic, Photographer

 

 

 

 

LUNCH IN THE SHADOWS A GREAT SUCCESS!

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.

Lunch in the shadows 6 13 2016 sighted guide 1
lunch in the shadows 6 13 2016 simulators 1
lunch in the shadows 6 13 2016 sighted guide 3
lunch in the shadows 6 13 2016 simulators 4

 

HELEN KELLER SOCIETY HAPPY HOUR FUN AND SUCCESSFUL!

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

L-R:  Brad Ott, Leon Peters, Barbara Bigelow, Mike Wambaugh, Tom Reilly, Doug Yingling and Todd Donnelly

L-R: Brad Ott, Leon Peters, Barbara Bigelow, Mike Wambaugh, Tom Reilly, Doug Yingling and Todd Donnelly

 

USED BRAILLE WRITERS AVAILABLE

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.

 
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