These are a selection of stories written by staff members at the Lighthouse of Collier. Our team members develop unique and special relationships with each client, which is reflected in this retelling of each clients’ successes.
As a result of the legislative grant, Lighthouse of Collier is able to provide a robust home services program. Through that program, services are provided to Nathan. He is an elderly veteran man living alone and has no family to take care of him in the area. Nathan cannot drive and did not have access to resources that would provide him rides when he initially became a client.
Nathan has learned tools, tips, techniques, and trainings to make his everyday life easier. One of the most useful tools he has learned is how to use Collier Area Paratransit System to take him around town and to important appointments. Nathan has become more independent because of his ability to obtain transportation. More information on this service can be found at: https://www.colliercountyfl.gov/your-government/divisions-f-r/public-transit-neighborhood-enhancement/our-services/collier-area-paratransit-system-7568
Lighthouse of Collier recently collaborated with ABG World to make an outreach video about the Children’s Programs to use for the Collier County Public Schools Expo, and future outreach. Instructor reached out to the family of two-year old Lauren, and her mother was ecstatic to participate and talk about the Lighthouse! Lauren’s mother took Lauren to go shopping for a new outfit and Lauren picked out a “special outfit” to wear for her “superstar moment”. Lauren’s mother shared that Lauren was absolutely excited to see her teacher and be a “movie star”. When walking through the hallway, she beamed when she saw a card with a picture of herself when she was 1 year old, from the “Meet the Kids” day. She immediately said “it’s baby me!” She got nervous at first when she arrived and saw the cameras and new faces, but quickly warmed up after hugging her instructor.
Lauren’s mother said many wonderful things about the support she’s received from the Lighthouse. After her mother’s interview, Lauren’s sister and father came in because her sister was so excited to see “Lauren’s teacher”. After this, the family gathered in front of the camera and sang Lauren’s favorite song “The wheels on the bus”!
For the past few years, Owen and his family and friends have collected donations during the holidays on behalf of Lighthouse of Collier. Owen is 12 years old and has Stargardt’s Disease, a genetic form of juvenile macular degeneration. People with Stargardt’s have central vision loss, blurred vision, and have difficulty recognizing faces, but their peripheral (side vision) is preserved.
Owen lives in Victoria Park where we all know that every home decorates for the holidays and it is a frequent stop for visitors to drive by and see the bright lights and decorations. Owen always sets up shop on the busiest corner with his friends and family with a large Lighthouse of Collier sign. Their purpose is to collect donations for Lighthouse of Collier.
Maggie has been a Lighthouse client for almost three years. She suffers from glaucoma and damaged corneas, causing a great deal of pain and extreme light sensitivity. She administers eye drops multiple times a day and attends frequent eye appointments. Compounding these challenges, Maggie was recently let go from her job due to COVID-19.
Despite her circumstances, Maggie always sees the glass half full and never seems defeated. She shows up with a smile and a “can do” attitude. Maggie frequently networks with other Lighthouse clients to help them cope with their vision loss. She leads by example by lending a hand to those in need.
After becoming a client of the Lighthouse of Collier in 2019, and again seeking services in summer 2020, Jack received training in orientation and mobility. More recently, after the Lighthouse was able to reopen after closing due to the pandemic, he and his wife called the office and requested additional orientation and mobility assistance. His wife could no longer escort him to his medical appointments. He required more cane skills and, since Jack has mild dementia, his wife was worried about his safety.
Jack’s existing skills were reviewed, and new skills were taught about approaching doors, and how to safely and effectively proceed through them with his cane and then follow the shoreline of the space to find the doctor’s office. All training was done outside on the sidewalk in front of his house and on his patio, per pandemic protocol. He was also provided with bold line paper and a bold, black marker so that he could write notes for his wife. He was instructed to write in capital letters to make his notes more legible for both himself and his wife. The instruction resulted in greater confidence for Jack and less stress for his wife.
David is an 11-year-old middle school student living with Stargardt disease, a retinal degenerative condition that causes central vision loss. Without central vision, David is unable to read print or even track the mouse on the screen. Due to COVID-19, David’s family decided to enroll him in virtual instruction through Collier County Public Schools. For a sighted student, this option can be challenging. For a visually impaired student, it can be overwhelming.
David is truly a joy to work with. Through hard work, determination, and most importantly the support of a very loving family, David will overcome any obstacle and become anything he chooses.
Sam is a retired physician in his 70s. He was originally enrolled under the Division of Blind Services Older Blind program, and was encouraged to participate in various classes and events. After 9 months of inactivity, despite regular invitations, the Division of Blind Services advised his case be closed.
However, during the pandemic, Lighthouse case managers could recommend new clients for support under the legislative grant. Sam was proposed as a candidate, as he had requested technology training but was unwilling to make the physical trip to the office. The Lighthouse instructor contacted Sam and he was indeed interested. Sam’s vision had decreased and he struggled with accessing his iPad and iPhone. Sam was pleased to be able to receive services from his home.
Vicki is an 18-year-old woman just beginning her college career. She is smart and self-reliant. Despite her visual impairment, she earned a full scholarship as an accomplished student and athlete in discus and javelin.
Vicki understands that being self-reliant as a person with a visual impairment means being able to advocate for herself. Vicki knew she needed orientation and mobility training to maintain her independence while participating in outdoor activities and traveling in her new college environment. The Lighthouse of Collier was recommended to her and her family.
After an initial assessment, Vicki and her assigned instructor began an intense training program in orientation and mobility. Even though she become ill with COVID-19 and had many doctors’ appointments before the start of school, she remained focused on the skills she would need to manage her indoor and outdoor travel needs efficiently and effectively. She practiced in earnest between lessons and, as a result, progressed quickly. Along with her cane, she possesses the orientation skills needed to thrive in a new environment. Her future goals include learning how to navigate public transportation and city traveling, so that as she advances through school and life she will continue being able to advocate for her own needs.
Justin is a 10-year-old boy living with Down syndrome, amblyopia, and a recent diagnosis of congenital cataracts. Justin’s mother reports what a difficult time the pandemic has been for Justin. Video conferences cause significant stress for him and have been triggering behavioral problems.
Justin’s mother reached out to the Lighthouse because Justin had a recent eye exam and was prescribed new lenses. She explained that these new lenses enabled Justin to read independently with ease, which is something he had struggled to do for some time. These struggles were frustrating for Justin, who loves to read. She stated how these lenses would meaningfully help him this upcoming school year, especially with the new online platform, but it would be difficult to afford them.
Lighthouse of Collier and the Naples Lions Club agreed to each provide half of the amount needed to purchase the new lenses. When Justin’s mother was informed of the good news, she was ecstatic. She stated that this was a “ray of light in the midst of these difficult times,” and that she was beyond grateful for the generosity of the Lions Club and Lighthouse of Collier.
Mary is a still-young woman who suffered strokes at an even younger age. She developed vision, speech, and mobility issues as a result. Mary does not let this deter her. Her determination makes those around her want to be and live better. Prior to the pandemic, Mary attended the recreation and leisure classes regularly at the Lighthouse, and in recent months has been participating virtually.
Over time, Mary’s speech has improved significantly to where she can verbally participate in activities such as the video conference groups and classes. Mary works hard at improving her abilities and it shows.
Purchase Seeing Beyond Blindness
If you would like to own one of these cocktail table books, please donate a suggested selling price of $35.00 to Lighthouse of Collier and we will send you one straight away.
Lighthouse of Collier dedicated the book to Art Bookbinder, a man who could see beyond blindness. He was a great friend and leader. May he rest in peace. August 1942 – April 2020.