Society For the Blind: A Vision of Hope
Dec 26, 2019 04:18PM
Helen Keller’s challenge was taken seriously when she presented the keynote address at the 1925 Lions Club International Convention: She challenged the members to “Be the Knights for the Blind.” Lions Clubs across the country took this to heart and in 1964, Society for the Blind—a nonprofit whose mission is to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop, and achieve their full potential—was established.
Shari Roeseler, executive director for the Sacramento-based organization that serves 27 counties, shares details about one project in particular: Senior IMPACT, which was designed specifically for individuals 55 and older with low vision or blindness. The program staff mentors and teaches others how to utilize technology, such as iPhones, to perform everyday activities like cooking meals, and how to get around using a white cane. The eight-day IMPACT Retreat, conducted monthly throughout the year, allows participants to become immersed in learning how to function without their sight, so they feel safe, secure, and confident in their day-to-day routines. Most senior participants want to stay in their homes and live their daily lives as they always have, and this program delivers the tools for them to do just that. Monthly community outings provide practice and learning opportunities following the retreat, while workshops for caregivers teach methods and ways to approach how to let their family members remain as independent as possible.
Roeseler speaks to the continued need to adapt to a diverse community by offering retreats in Spanish and hopes the Senior IMPACT program continues to grow, as the needs have outgrown the predictions. This past year, for example, they anticipated serving 500 participants, but actually served 627 people. Continued fundraising and awareness for the services is propelling the dreams of increasing staff headcount.
Vision loss doesn’t mean you have lost your ability to work, think, and contribute. In fact, Roeseler says at Society for the Blind they teach people how to adapt and retain or find employment through the CareersPLUS program, and she believes employers can benefit from a talented and gifted pool of applicants, too.
Over 250 volunteers support Society for the Blind, according Roeseler, who’s been the executive director for approximately eight years, and more help is always needed. She writes in her online message, “Thanks to your contributions of time, talent, and treasure, nearly 6,000 people living with low vision and blindness took part in our programs, received eye care at our low vision clinic, and stayed connected through support groups and other Society events.”
How to HelpWhether you have just a few hours or seek a long-term opportunity, Society for the Blind has an opportunity for you.
Current needs include:
•Recording news, magazines, circulars, and other items of interest
•Assistance at weekly bingo games
For more info, visit societyfortheblind.org/get-involved/volunteer.
By Susan Wallace