October 2021 eNews
Life’s Silver Linings
It’s hard not to smile and laugh when spending time with Michael. He’s the type of individual that seems to find the positive in most situations. He has a way of, as he puts it, rolling with the punches and finding life’s silver linings.
Several years ago, Michael recognized he was having vision issues and eventually sought treatment from his doctor. After multiple eye surgeries Michael was faced with the reality that his vision loss would be permanent. Even upon learning of this news he knew that he had to keep a positive mindset and press forward. Michael met with specialists to discuss his options and to find out more about resources for the blind. Conversations with doctors and researching different programs and organizations, Michael settled on one of the first places he had heard about, Lighthouse.
“The professionalism of the instructors” he says, “is on point”. Michael is pleased he has the support and knowledge of his Lighthouse instructors. “You get out of it what you put into it,” he says. “You have to be willing to listen, learn and be able to look inside yourself. You have to put in the work.” It’s this mantra of staying positive and putting forth the effort that has allowed Michael to adapt to losing his vision, but he recognizes that it’s a team effort.
Michael was recently invited to one of the Lighthouse’s in-person Walk & Talk sessions he jumped at the opportunity to attend. Michael recognized the chance to use what skills he had learned from his Orientation and Mobility instructor in one-on-one sessions but also to learn in a new and unfamiliar environment. “It was enlightening,” he says, “we were able to travel the mall with all the people and countless obstacles. It was awesome and what our instructor helped us to accomplish was pretty awesome too.” And while the pandemic has changed how classes and instruction have been conducted, Michael noted that the level of care and compassion of the Lighthouse has not wavered.
Michael notes that his journey hasn’t always been easy but that he tries to approach each day with a positive outlook. “I’m hopeful and,” he adds, “going to do everything I can.” It’s this notion of taking what life has given him and turning it into something positive that is so incredible. “There is a silver lining to this cloud,” sharing the story of his younger brother beginning early eye treatment under the guidance of an eye specialist that has helped to save his brother’s vision. Having nearly an identical medical background Michael credits the path he walked in saving his younger brother’s vision. “I’m going to own this,” Michael adds “With the help of good people and good instruction you can conquer anything.”
Click play on the video below to watch and hear Michael’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 Events
Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center will honor White Cane Awareness Day with events throughout the month of October in Highlands, Manatee and Sarasota counties. The white cane is the most easily recognized symbol of a visually impaired person around the globe. This essential tool allows individuals the ability to achieve a full and independent life by helping them move freely and safely in public. White Cane Awareness Day will be celebrated locally on Saturday, October 9, Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 with various events to recognize this important tool of independence. The events are free and open to the public.
President Lyndon B. Johnson established the history of White Cane Awareness Day in 1964. The day commemorates the signing of state and federal laws requiring motorists to yield the right-of-way to pedestrians using a white cane or guide dog. The events hosted around the country serve to educate about the traffic laws and importance of the white cane and its users. Additionally, White Cane Awareness Day celebrates the achievements, freedom and independence of blind and visually impaired people.
Please join us in celebrating this important day by attending one of our four in-person events this October. See below for more information about these events, including locations and times.
Saturday, October 9, 8:00 am, Lighthouse will have an educational booth about White Cane at the Sarasota Farmers Market
Friday, October 15, 9:00 am, Mayor Hagen Brody and City Commissioner Jennifer Ahearn-Koch will present the proclamation at Paul N. Thorpe Jr. Park, 135 South Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota.
Saturday, October 16, 9:00 am, City of Bradenton Mayor Gene Brown will present the proclamation at 1101 6th Avenue West, Bradenton. Presentation to be followed by a walk to the farmers market where Lighthouse will have an educational booth at the Bradenton Farmers Market.
Saturday, October 16, 10:00 am, Mayor John Shoop of Sebring will present the proclamation at Sebring Circle, 202 Circle Park Drive in Highlands County.
Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center would like to thank the following sponsors and partners for their support of these events. Alan Jay Automotive Network, Bradenton Police Department, Bradenton & Palmetto Lions Club, Division of Blind Services, Eye Specialists of Mid-Florida, Florida Department of Transportation, Manatee County Council of the Blind, National Coalition for Safer Roads, Newsom Eye, Sarasota Council of the Blind, Sarasota Police Department, Sevigny Associates Eye Care, Southeastern Guide Dogs, and The Mark Wandall Foundation.
For more information contact Nicole Mobley at (941) 359-1404 ext. 702 or nicole.mobley@LighthouseEducationCenter.org
Lighthouse at Sarasota Destination Zero
Lighthouse Independent Living Program Rehabilitation Manager, Maddy Spencer and Vision Rehabilitation Specialist, Nathan LaForte participated in the recent Destination Zero workshop sponsored by Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO).
This workshop focused on identifying strategies to share with local jurisdictions in an effort to make walking, biking and driving safer for students, seniors, and people with disabilities.
Meet Our New Intern
The Lighthouse would like to extend a warm and hearty welcome to our new intern Mercedes Cahill. Raised on the Suncoast, Mercedes has her Associate in Arts degree and is completing her Associate in Science degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant through the State College of Florida.
We are very excited to have Mercedes as part of the Lighthouse team. She is a fantastic addition to our organization and has a passion for helping others as well as serving her community. Welcome aboard Mercedes!
Please consider making a donation to the Lighthouse through The Louis and Gloria Flanzer Philanthropic Trust’s Matching Gift program.
To double your donation today:
- Go to FlanzerTrust.org
- Click “Donate Now”.
- Enter your contact information and Choose “Lighthouse Vision Loss Education Center” as the recipient.
- Click “Submit” button.
- Click “Click here to finalize your donation through PayPal”.
- Enter the donation amount you wish to be DOUBLED and to complete the transaction, click “Donate with debit or credit card”.
- You will receive a receipt for your gift.
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.
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.
Please consider making a year-end donation to the Lighthouse by Dec. 31, 2021, with a QCD. Please consult your tax advisor as to whether this option is right for your situation.
For more information, please contact Terri Medina at (941) 359-1404 or Terri.Medina@LighthouseEducationCenter.org
Take advantage of your opportunity to purchase your Solar Shield sunglasses at a fantastic discount. A great way to protect your eyes from harmful UVA and UVB rays, Solar Shield sunglasses are fashionable and affordable alternatives to expensive prescription sunglasses.
Peepers Online Store provides an array of products ranging from the newest equipment in assistive technology to high-quality office and writing aids, kitchen aids, lighting and hand-held or high-tech magnifiers* for individuals with low vision. Whatever your needs, Peepers has great selections available at reasonable prices. Go online to https://lighthouseeducationcenter.org/about-peepers/shop/ to purchase locally. Items will be shipped to your door.
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. 2.
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.