Sometimes you’re so focused on the past – and that has certainly been the case as we celebrate Northeast Sight Services’ centennial – that we forget to emphasize the importance of the present.
And yet even with all of the celebrations and observances of our 100th year (and they’re still going on), our organization is very much focused on furthering the existing programs and creating new ones that have a direct impact on people right here in our local community.
Our staff and volunteers are constantly looking for gaps in services for people who are un- or under-served in our area with blindness or visually impairments … and you would be surprised at how many exist.
Honestly, you don’t really think about it until it’s happening to you or someone that you know. Personally, I am often in the position of talking to people I’ve known my entire life, who are looking for services for themselves or a family member, and it’s difficult to tell them that there are long waiting lists or no funding options available for things they need.
Stemming from these difficulties, we have instituted new programs aimed at serving those most in need.
In April, we began a new initiative called “Eye Learn,” focused on providing group sessions for those living with vision loss. The first program called “The Blueprint” began last month and provided a six-week training for people new to vision loss to learn more about their visual diagnosis and to attain skills, such as protection techniques, sighted-guide trainings for individuals and a partner, how to use different assistive technology, types of mobility and rehabilitation devices, among many others. And while the program was commended by the participants, it is difficult to quantify the life changing effects these everyday skills have on someone’s life.
This month, we were especially excited to kick off a much anticipated program, designed to foster relationships, decrease social isolation and develop skills in individuals who are 18 to 40 years of age and visually impaired or blind.
We were finding that once a young adult leaves our InSight Kids Club, there is no group programming aimed at this population (while bingo and day programs are fun for our older clients, they didn’t seem to hold the same appeal for the younger generations).
So, our Young Adult program was born and opened with a group outing at a Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders game. While we know all the participants had a great time, it was especially heartwarming to see two people meet and become friends through shared interests and challenges. More programs for this group are being planned for later in the year.
We also have a fun and educational Summer Wellness Challenge planned for our clients starting in June. Realizing that health and fitness are sometimes last priority, we want to give our clients an incentive to get healthy this summer.
Please continue to check back with us – through our website at www.northeastsight.org or our Facebook page – to learn, not just our past and all of the many accomplishments of the last 100 years, but more about our new initiatives and our bright future.
Sara Gorgone Peperno is the president and CEO of Northeast Sight Services. The Times Leader encourages leaders of area nonprofits to submit op-ed articles. For more information, contact Executive Editor Joe Soprano at [email protected]