Northeast Sight Services celebrating 100 years of helping visually impaired

By Geri Gibbons - For Times Leader
Karin Lazarowicz, of Shickshinny, is examined by Dr. Anthony Silvetti at the Northeast Sight Services in Exeter. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Northeast Sight Services offers many devices for the visually impaired in its Vision Resource Center in Exeter. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Amy Feldman, director of development at Northeast Sight Services, checks a section of the organization’s Vision Resource Center devoted to children. - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader
Sara Gorgone Peperno, left, president/CEO Northeast Sight Services, and Amy Feldman, director of development, stand in the newly designed Vision Resource Center in Exeter. - - Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

EXETER – Northeast Sight Services is celebrating its 100th year not only with a new name but with an array of new services which benefit members of the community who are visually impaired.

President and CEO Sara Gorgone Peperno said the organization’s previous name, the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind, had become outdated and inaccurate.

“We serve several counties, and we serve clients from Upper Luzerne County and from areas of Wyoming, Wayne and Pike counties,” she said. “Most importantly, we serve not only the blind, but also those with visual impairment.”

Both Gorgonen Peperno and Amy Feldman, director of development, are at the helm of the organization which has embraced change and growth in order to better the lives of its clients.

Both are especially excited about the organization’s renovated Vision Resource Center, which they say is a one-stop shop for practical tools that enhance work, home life and leisure.

Staff from Northeast Sight Services walk clients of all ages through the process of choosing devices and aids that will be most helpful to them.

“Some of our clients prefer using high tech tools to assist them in daily living,” Gorgone Perperno said. “And some prefer simple solutions.”

She contrasted a younger person utilizing an iPad with an enlarged screen, to another, perhaps older person, simply using a rubberband wrapped around a shampoo bottle to differentiate it from conditioner.

For those who prefer high tech, a device available at the center called a Colorino identifies colors so that those with visual impairment can match their clothing.

Others simply learn how to attach tags to their clothing to help them color coordinate.

Gorgone Peperno said she is inspired by older people who come to the center who have recently developed visual impairment, but are determined to continue to live their lives to the fullest.

“We have one man who is over 90 in a new program called Orientation and Mobility,” she said. “And he wants to learn all he can about how to master the challenges of low vision.”

The organization also provides tools to prevent vision loss and enhance vision, which include vision screenings and educational presentations to school-age children.

Both Feldman and Gorgone Peperno work to find ways to change the scope of the organization – to reach more people in need and ensure they receive vital services.

“Since starting at Northeast Sight Services, we spent a lot of time evaluating every aspect of the organization to see what was working and what wasn’t,” said Feldman. “Over time, changes were made and we continually look to enhance and expand important services.”

Last year, the organization served about 6,000 people.

Both Feldman and Gorgone Peperno credit their staff, who they say work as a true team embracing a collaborative spirit, for making everyday successes possible.

Karin Lazarowicz, of Shickshinny, is examined by Dr. Anthony Silvetti at the Northeast Sight Services in Exeter.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_NE-Sight-Services-4.jpgKarin Lazarowicz, of Shickshinny, is examined by Dr. Anthony Silvetti at the Northeast Sight Services in Exeter. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Northeast Sight Services offers many devices for the visually impaired in its Vision Resource Center in Exeter.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_NE-Sight-Services-3.jpgNortheast Sight Services offers many devices for the visually impaired in its Vision Resource Center in Exeter. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Amy Feldman, director of development at Northeast Sight Services, checks a section of the organization’s Vision Resource Center devoted to children.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_NE-Sight-Services-2.jpgAmy Feldman, director of development at Northeast Sight Services, checks a section of the organization’s Vision Resource Center devoted to children. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

Sara Gorgone Peperno, left, president/CEO Northeast Sight Services, and Amy Feldman, director of development, stand in the newly designed Vision Resource Center in Exeter.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/web1_NE-Sight-Services-1.jpgSara Gorgone Peperno, left, president/CEO Northeast Sight Services, and Amy Feldman, director of development, stand in the newly designed Vision Resource Center in Exeter. Tony Callaio | For Times Leader

By Geri Gibbons

For Times Leader

The mission of the Northeast Sight Services is to help blind and visually impaired individuals achieve the best possible quality of life by providing compassionate services and to prevent vision loss through education and early detection for people of all ages.

Founded in 1918, Northeast Sight Services is a nonprofit organization that serves Northeast Pennsylvania, including Luzerne, Wyoming, Wayne, and Pike counties.

Its Social Service programs are offered to individuals who are legally blind or have low vision, which is defined as having a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the better eye with best correction or a corresponding field loss. With the goal of improving the quality of one’s life and maintaining his/her independence, the Northeast Sight Services offers the following services:

• Adjustment to Vision Loss

• In-Home Support

• Independent Living and Social Events

Its Prevention of Blindness programs are offered to people of all ages and demographics. These programs are focused on helping prevent blindness locally:

• Vision Screenings (for both children and adults)

• Eye Health & Safety Education programs (for both children and adults)

The Marilyn Moore Maslow Vision Resource Center ensures that individuals in our local communities have access to sight, whether it be through a high-powered magnifier from the Vision Resource Center or a basic pair of affordable prescription frames.

InSight Kids Club of NEPA is program organized in partnership with Community Services for Sight for blind and visually impaired children to get together and enjoy both recreational and instructional opportunities as a group.

• Camp Sight

• Transition Assistance

• Monthly Children’s Programs

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.

Reach the Times Leader newsroom at 570-829-7242 or on Twitter @TLnews.