Staff Profile – Molly Irish

Molly Irish and student Diane Stevenson on a LightHouse outing to Ghirardelli Square With an air of quiet determination and serenity, Community Services Coordinator Molly Irish ensures that each week we offer interesting and engaging programming for our blind adult and senior students. She sees that we offer a variety of activities and classes including a weekly Memorial quilting group, the Beanie’s for Babies knitting group, bingo nights, birthday celebrations and outings to museums, shopping centers and other fun and/or cultural destinations.

One of Molly’s exceptional talents is her ability to fill hungry stomachs with delicious, wholesome food and to teach folks to do the same. “I hate bland food, so I try to teach our students how to prepare food that is healthy and tastes good. We update tried-and-true recipes like BBQ Chicken, meatloaf and sweet yams to teach them how to make healthier choices by lowering the amount of sugar, added fats and salt in the recipes.” Recently, Molly taught blind teens how to prepare sushi in our Cooking 101 class for youth.

Molly has been working for the LightHouse for almost 16 years. She’s known for being a patient and non-judgmental listener. “I love my job – my students, who quickly become my friends, know that I appreciate their hard work, and that I care about them.” Molly’s philosophy on working with blind students is simple: “I don’t insult them by babying them, and I encourage them to remain active and live life in the driver’s seat.”

Molly met her husband Mike, who works for our Industries division, at the LightHouse. She goes on to say, “Mike is blind and he has never let his blindness stand in his way. He operates chainsaws, table saws, you name it. He doesn’t use his blindness as an excuse and we both believe that doing nothing isn’t living, it’s just surviving.” Though Molly is sighted she’s picked up a few essential blindness skills from her students. “I’ve learned braille, ASL (American Sign Language) and tactile sign language, which I use with our deaf-blind students. I want to be able to work with everyone.”

Molly’s zest for life is intrinsic to her being; outside of work she is busy with hobbies galore including, we learned, motorcycle riding. “It’s different when you’re on a motorcycle,” she says. “You get to your destination using the same roads you would with your car, but on a bike the drive is as important as the destination.”

She also loves to fish and told us, “I’ve been tying my own flies for fly-fishing for over twenty years. I love hooking a rainbow trout, partly because of the fight they give, and partly because I cannot wait to fry up that delicious, light-pink fish. I’m also an archer – I’ve shot two “robin hoods” (a “robin hood” is when an archer shoots an arrow into a bull’s-eye, then sends the next arrow straight into the shaft of the first) and I’ve taken home first prizes in four competitions. I don’t hunt with my compound bow, but I do love practicing on 3D (life-like) animal targets.”

If you’d like to add more zest to your life, consider joining Molly at a future LightHouse outing or class. Molly also reminds us to, “sign up for the Beth’s List email – it’s the best way to get weekly updates on what’s happing at the LightHouse and in our community.” To sign up for Beth’s Weekly Events List send your request to bberenson@lighthouse-sf.org.