Governor Appointed Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind Public Forum

Lighthouse of the Blind of the Palm Beaches will host the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches, 1710 Tiffany Drive East, West Palm Beach, FL 33407.

The public is encouraged to attend and provide comments pertaining to services they may or may not be receiving from Division of Blind Services. The Florida Rehabilitation Council is a Governor appointed independent council with the responsibility to assess the quality of services being provided the citizens of the state of Florida and report those findings to the Governor and the Director of Blind Services. Attendees are requested to come with prepared comments so everyone has an opportunity to be heard and avoid disclosing private information.

Persons needing a special accommodation to participate in this forum should contact the Division of Blind Services office no later than ten (10) working days prior to the meeting at (561) 681-2548 or toll free (866) 225-0794, or the Florida Telephone Relay system 711.

Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches Participates in White Cane Safety Day

In observance of White Cane Safety Day on Tueday, October 15, The Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches will present orientation and mobility instruction on how to use the cane.  The St. Lucie Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind is hosting the event which begins at 11:00 a.m. at WQCS Radio Station, IRSC, 3209 Virginia Avenue, Fort Pierce.  White Cane Safety Day has been observed on October 15 since 1964.

Palm Beach County Bar Association – North County Section donates $11,500 to Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches

A check presentation from The Palm Beach County Bar Association – North County Section of $11,500 was made to Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches.  The funds raised through the Association’s Annual Holiday Auction benefit local non-profit organizations throughout Palm Beach County.

 “With this donation, The Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches can provided visually impaired and legally blind people with assistance such as Orientation and Mobility Training, Assistive Technical Training and Rehabilitative therapy and Life Skills Training with opportunities to learn new techniques, gain independence, and develop essential social skills and new relationships to help them thrive as individuals and in groups,” said Mary Allen, Director of Vision Services.

NCCI Employee Works to Light Up Kids’ Summer Days

Many of Donte’ Mickens’ summer camp days were filled with dragonflies, children’s laughter, craft-making, and playing kickball on ground baked hard by Florida sun.

But on other days, Mickens and his campmates set about a more serious quest—learning to navigate through life with limited vision.

Their kick balls were loaded with beepers; winning maneuvers doubled as lessons in motor skills; the white cane lost its awkwardness to become an ally.

Technology, too, was introduced— closed-circuit television equipment that renders tiny print readable; software that transforms written words into spoken words.

“We learned to have confidence in our abilities, and saw what was possible,” says Mickens, who is a Residual Market senior financial analyst for NCCI. 

The day camp, located in West Palm Beach, is owned and run by the Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches. The camp, which serves youngsters from kindergarten through 12th grade, is only one of dozens of programs and services the organization offers to the visually impaired of all ages.

Mickens, who is legally blind, spends much of his free time—several hours a week—helping the organization. He serves on the board of directors, helping to plan events and reviewing the agency’s services. This summer, he’ll be teaching the summer camp children about personal finances and budgets.

He also serves on an advisory board to the Florida State Division of Blind Services, which requires traveling around the state for quarterly meetings and public hearings.

“I max out my Volunteer Time Off,” Mickens says, referring to NCCI’s Volunteer Time Off program that enables employees to take up to 12 hours a quarter as paid volunteer hours.

NCCI added Lighthouse for the Blind to its list of supported charities this year.

Lighthouse History and Mission

Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches was begun in 1946 by the West Palm Beach Lions Club. Originally called Lions Industries for the Blind, the organization’s primary goal was to provide jobs for visually impaired residents in and around West Palm Beach.

The agency originally offered employment doing handicrafts and weaving, and evolved into a light industrial center that taught sewing and manufacturing skills. The day camp was begun in 1968.

Other services for children and adults were added over the years, and the organization’s membership grew to include all of Palm Beach County. The name was changed, accordingly, in 1978.

Today, the agency helps sight-impaired residents with:

·         Job readiness

·         Independent living

·         Orientation and mobility

·         Technology instruction

·         Community education

·         Support groups

How Mickens Got Started

Lighthouse for the Blind asked Mickens to get involved in 2012, believing that his experience as a former client would bring a valuable perspective to the board.

One year earlier, Mickens was asked to join the Florida Rehabilitation Council for the Blind, an advisory board to the Florida Division of Blind Services. The board reviews, analyzes, and advises on policy decisions, and also evaluates the effectiveness of state’s services for its visually impaired residents.

Both organizations offer similar services.

Why He Keeps on Giving

“To volunteer and serve these organizations is a true honor, and it makes me feel good to give something back to them.  The confidence and hope instilled by the great folks at the Lighthouse when I was quite young remain with me to this day,” Mickens says.

“To promote the Lighthouse’s mission ‘to help those with visual impairments develop their capabilities to the fullest’ will forever be a passion of mine.”

This article was reprinted with permission from NCCI, the nation’s most experienced provider of workers compensation information, tools, and services.

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

WELLINGTON, Fla. - Normally you would see a dog helping the vision-impaired person, but Linda Zuckerman, a blind woman, has turned the tables, and devoting her time, and love to caring for rescue dogs.

Cathy-Alice Koyanagi is Linda's mentor at the Lighthouse for the Blind. She say when people ask her about a blind lady volunteering, they say "Excuse me? A blind person is working at the big dog rescue? How can that be?" 

And when I tell them, they sit back and say, "I can do something too. Wow, that's power."

The power to move on after she lost her sight just two years ago. Linda Zuckerman didn't let that stop her from helping others.  

When her friend and mentor Cathy-Alice suggested volunteering with dogs, she was all-in, despite the difficulties.

Karen Koenig of the Big Dog Ranch Rescue is glad she helping out.

"She's been a complete inspiration, They cannot believe she comes in, she's always happy, she always smiles, and they see her doing this work, they see her doing work that they thought a blind person couldn't do and she does it, and she does it beautifully, " said Karen.

When asked if she considers herself a role model or inspiration, Linda quietly says with her head down "Ummm….no…."

But her new friends see it differently.

"She inspires me every time…she's a courageous lady and has shown a lot of dogs a lot of love." Says one of her fellow volunteers at the ranch, Tracy Mason. 

Mason paired up with Zuckerman to help her get around the ranch.

Koenig adds "What Linda has demonstrated by volunteering at big dog ranch rescue is that someone with disabilities, regardless if they are blind, or they have other disabilities…they have something to give."

Linda wants other blind people to know "I would hope that other blind people would know that there is a place for them and that their disability will not stop them from giving and receiving more than just help but therapy for dogs and for yourself."

Help Big Dog Ranch Rescue

and The Lighthouse for the Blind of the Palm Beaches.