November 2021 eNews
Losing Sight Doesn’t Mean Losing Independence
Not long after Tom turned eighteen, he started having back pain. Then one day the back pain led to some far worse; Tom had a seizure. He was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that he had a brain tumor. Tom would undergo emergency surgery to remove the tumor however, the damage from the tumor ended up causing him to lose his sight and at that point Tom’s life would forever be changed.
“It wasn’t easy” says Tom, “but I had to grow up pretty fast.” Admitting that he’s never been one to sit around and feel sorry for himself, Tom took his loss of sight head-on. He knew he had to find a way to pursue a career, so he began taking mobility, computer and job coaching classes at Lighthouse. Eventually, he enrolled at school in Little Rock, Arkansas that taught small engine mechanics. After about a year of schooling, Tom found employment back on the Suncoast working in a commercial lawnmower shop for several years.
Like so many at the time, Tom was affected by the hardships of the 2008 economic recession and was laid off from his mechanic job. So, he once again found himself reaching out to the Lighthouse for help. “Lighthouse has always been helpful no matter where I’m at,” in life said Tom. He again began working with the Lighthouse’s Orientation and Mobility instructors as well as those in the Assistive Technology department. Tom knew he couldn’t wait for a job to come to him, so he used the tools provided to put him in the best position possible to find a new job. Soon thereafter, Tom started working at Goodwill. At first it was part-time but after only a couple of months Tom began working there full-time and has been working for Goodwill ever since.
Tom credits the Lighthouse for helping him to navigate both around town and at work. He specifically mentioned his work with Ms. Latricia Gambrell, a Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist at Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center. Latricia and Tom have been working with each other for a while and she was the one that first assisted Tom when he began working at Goodwill. Latricia worked with Tom as he learned to navigate in his new surroundings, locating various work areas like the bathrooms, breakrooms, and getting to the bus stop.
Tom credits Latricia and others at Lighthouse for helping him over the years. “They get you moving,” says Tom “they get you out there so you’re not a bump on the log.” He adds that because of the different techniques he has learned from his mobility instructors, such as locating physical landmarks, listening to how sounds change in an environment, and paying more attention to surroundings, that he can live a more self-sufficient life.
Tom encourages those that are blind or experiencing vision loss to soak up as much information from their instructors as possible and to allow help from others when it is offered. Tom shared that he’s always had the love and support of his parents and close friends, and that there isn’t anything wrong with having others help you. “Nobody does anything by themselves, and no one should be afraid to ask for help.” He adds that it only can make you more capable and independent.
Click play on the video below to watch and hear Tom’s story. To read more client stories, visit
Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center works with children, teens, adults and seniors affected by vision loss to gain independence and self-sufficiency. Our programs and services are provided at NO COST to every person we provide services to. These services are provided free because of individuals like you. We hope you will continue to donate to the Lighthouse by clicking the donate button.
White Cane Awareness Day Events
We are so pleased with this year’s White Cane Awareness turnout and grateful for the support received at all three of our local White Cane Awareness Day events. Thank you to all our sponsors and partners for their support of these events in Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota Counties. Additionally, we would like to encourage those who might benefit from our free Orientation & Mobility skills training to contact us.
Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center, the area’s nonprofit vision rehabilitation resource, has trained those in our community in the skillful use of the white cane for Orientation and Mobility. Learning to travel safely, efficiently and independently within familiar and unfamiliar environments is the goal of Orientation & Mobility training (O&M).
For more information, call (941) 359-1404 or visit lighthouseeducationcenter.org/program/orientation-and-mobility/
Come On In, We’re Open
The Lighthouse will resume some of its in-person classes starting mid-November. We will continue with virtual class offerings but as we begin in-person classes we will continue to adhere to CDC guidelines.
The Peepers Low Vision Store will continue to be ONLINE only. Should you have magnification needs, please call for an appointment with our consultant at (941) 359-1404. Additional Peepers information can be located below.
Thursday, November 11 is Veterans Day
Our offices will be closed on November 11 in observance of the holiday.
Sarasota Farmers Market
Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center will have a booth at the Sarasota Farmers Market on Saturday, November 20 from 8:00 am – Noon to raise awareness and outreach to the community. Come say hello and do some shopping at the market.
If you’re interested in volunteering at this event, please contact Nicole at (941) 359-1404 ext. 702 or nicole.mobley@LighthouseEducationCenter.org.
Offices will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 26 in observance of the holiday. As we give thanks, Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center is grateful to all of our clients, alumni, relatives and supporters in the extended Lighthouse family. We appreciate your participation and contributions every day.
Thanksgiving is a holiday that reminds us to say it aloud.
Support Lighthouse at the 2nd Annual Festival of Trees
Join Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center as we showcase our mission, to educate and empower those affected by vision loss so they may enjoy happy, healthy and independent lives, at University Town Center’s Second Annual Festival of Trees.
This year’s Festival of Trees begins Wednesday, December 1-19 in the West District at UTC. Visitors can purchase $1 tickets to vote for their favorite nonprofit trees. Additionally, the trees will be offered for silent auction to raise funds for each participating nonprofit. 100% of the ticket sale amounts and silent auction sales will go to each nonprofit. Please stop by to visit this beautiful display and vote for the Lighthouse.
For more information and to purchase an ornament with your name designed in Braille, go to https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/events/lighthouse-festival-of-trees/
Leave a Legacy That Provides Hope
Help further our mission with a Qualified Charitable Distribution from your IRA.
A Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) is a direct transfer of funds from your IRA custodian, payable to a qualified charity. This gift option allows donors aged 70 1/2 or older to transfer up to $100,000 directly from an IRA or Roth IRA to the Lighthouse. This is a great way to make a lifetime charitable gift from your retirement assets.
Because a QCD flows from your IRA custodian directly to the charity without you as the middleman, the amount donated does not flow through your taxable income, which is unlike regular withdrawals from your IRA. Keeping your taxable income lower may reduce the impact to certain tax credits and deductions, including Social Security and Medicare.
We encourage you to consider making a year-end donation to the Lighthouse by Dec. 31, 2021. Please consult with your tax advisor as to whether this option is right for your situation.
For more information, please contact Nicole Mobley at (941) 359-1404 ext. 702 or nicole.mobley@LighthouseEducationCenter.org.
Take advantage of your opportunity to purchase your SmartLux Digital Handheld Magnifier at a fantastic discount.
Peepers Online Low Vision Store is the #1 authorized seller of Eschenbach electronic magnifiers, selling more than any retail store in Southwest Florida. Our expert technician is available by appointment only to assist you with a personalized hands-on evaluation for your magnification needs.
Phone: (941) 359-1404
Ready to be a Part of Something Big? Join the Sustainers Club!
Our Sustainers Club is a monthly giving program with 100% of every dollar going directly toward changing the lives Support children, teens, adults and seniors affected by vision loss! With a donation of as little as $10 a month, you can provide blind and visually impaired individuals with FREE programs and services focused on adjusting to their loss of vision, mobility and white cane training, computer, tablet and mobile phone training, independence and advocacy, job services readiness and so much more. As a member of the Sustainers Club, your monthly donation will help Lighthouse build our community.
Join us at https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/donate/monthly-giving/ or contact the Development Team at
941-359-1404 ext. 702.
A State of Vision License Plate Supports Lighthouse
Support the blind and visually impaired community regain independence by purchasing “A State of Vision” license plate when you renew your auto tag. Funds from the sale of “A State of Vision” license plates are distributed to Florida Agencies Serving the Blind, Inc., which funds direct-support services to blind and visually impaired people. Specialty tag gift certificates are also available.
This license plate is a reminder to people on the road of our mission of hope and empowerment for the vision impaired. The Florida-inspired colors will also look great on your car! Information is on the website: https://myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/a-state-of-vision.html. Purchase your license plate today!
When You Smile, We all Smile!
While shopping on Amazon, remember to to purchase your goods through Smile.Amazon.com and select Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center as your designated charity. Shopping through AmazonSmile provides a portion of your purchases to be donated to the Lighthouse.