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Support

Let’s Talk – a Monthly Youth Conversation with Laura – on Saturday, September 17

PHOTO: LightHouse Youth gather together during the July YES Academy session.

Part of the LightHouse BEST (Building Excellence with Skills Training) Series for middle school and high school youth

Let’s Talk is an exciting new comprehensive science-based educational workshop, designed specifically for high school students who are blind or have low vision. Let’s Talk workshops provide a safe space for students to come together and talk about their experiences while they learn and acquire skills that will help them navigate all types of interpersonal relationships.

Who: Students that are blind or have low vision and are attending high school.
When: Saturday, September 17 from 3:15 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: The new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103
Cost: FREE
Waiver: Each participant must fill out and submit a LightHouse Youth Program Application if they have not done so already.

Let’s Talk will focus on topics related to gender, sexuality, reproductive health, navigating social challenges, developing friendships, dating and so much more. By providing youth with accurate, non-judgmental information, they can learn to make healthier decisions and choices for themselves. Our first workshop will focus on activities that help youth identify and establish healthy boundaries. Subsequent workshops will be created based on topics the class participants themselves would like to focus on.

If you would like more information or to RSVP for this event please contact Jamey Gump, Youth Services Coordinator, at 415-694-7372 or by email at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org.

If you are unable to attend and have ideas for future Let’s Talk workshops please e-mail info@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-431-1481.

Next Mind’s Eye Therapy Group Series Starting in September

PHOTO: Rachel Longan

LightHouse for the Blind’s Counseling and Psychological Services program is offering the next Mind’s Eye therapy group beginning September 7. This group is intended for individuals who are moving forward in their lives with recent changes in their vision.  Group facilitator, Rachel Longan, has thoughtfully designed Mind’s Eye for adults who are navigating this very personal journey.

When: Wednesday mornings, from September 7 through November 16, 10:00 to 11:30 a.m.
Where: The new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

Sudden or actively progressive vision changes can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Group participants are able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding setting.

Ms. Longan incorporates a variety of techniques and experiential exercises into each session. Some of the topics the group is covering include new challenges in relationships, social participation, and emotional factors commonly associated with adjusting to vision changes.

Please be aware that this is not a drop-in group – there is a registration process and a nominal fee for participating in this group. People who are interested in enrolling in the group are urged to contact Ms. Longan at 415-694-7302 or email her at rlongan@lighthouse-sf.org.

About the Therapist
Rachel Longan has over 10 years of experience conducting support groups in a variety of settings.  Rachel herself has low vision and has designed and facilitated the Mind’s Eye group specifically for individuals experiencing recent changes in their vision.

Ms. Longan has guest lectured at the International Conference on Costello Syndrome and at UC Berkeley.  She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, conducts a parent group for the City of Berkeley, and has a private psychotherapy practice also in Berkeley.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

PHOTO: Blind and Proud sign rises above the crowd at LightHouse Grand Opening Parade.

The LightHouse wishes to thank its devoted friends and community partners who have recently shown their support by providing significant funds to help our programs go further and reach higher:

The Alcon Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Lisa Carvalho and David Mager – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse and General Support
Delong-Sweet Family Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Joan Dove – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
The Fong’s Initiative – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Elizabeth Freer and Michael Headley – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Patricia Heim and Sergius Lashutka – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Jerry Kuns and Theresa Postello – for Enchanted Hills Camp and the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Jane and Robert Micks – for general operating support – LightHouse North Coast
Mutual of America – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Fred Ruhland – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Michele Spitz – for Superfest and to underwrite tickets to cultural events
Frederic and Kristine Silva – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Todd Stevenot and Anne Sandbach – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Telecare Corporation – for Superfest International Disability Film Festival
Toyota Partner Robot Group – for the Innovation Lab Sponsored by Toyota
Wells Fargo – for sponsorship for our Grand Opening Celebration and for Employment Immersion
Workday Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp

Estate Planning 101: Tips I learned from Betsy

PHOTO: Betsy Cannon speaks to a crowd of LightHouse supporters.

Last month Estate Attorney Betsy Cannon led a workshop for a group of interested LightHouse supporters and students on the basics of planning your estate.

Betsy Cannon is a partner in the firm of Plageman, Lund & Cannon LLP, where she practices in the areas of estate planning, and trust and estate administration. Her talk was informative and fascinating, and the audience was engaged, asking many pertinent questions. Here are some of the things we gleaned from the workshop:

  • Planning your estate is important. If you don’t have an estate plan, there are a number of undesirable things that will take place, the most glaringly avoidable, costly and unpleasant is that your estate will be subject to probate if your assets exceed $150,000. This will delay your assets being distributed and will give you no opportunity to make charitable gifts through your estate.
  • If your assets of real estate, currency, stocks, etc. total more than $150,000, it is generally recommended that your estate plan be in the form of a Revocable Living Trust, not a will. This will enable you to avoid probate and its costs. If you´re not looking to sell yet, you can hire lakeland fl property management companies to help you manage your own property with ease.
  • Don’t fall into a common estate planning pitfall: Once you set up a trust, you need to take the additional step of making sure all of your assets are transferred into the trust.
  • The takeaway: Another good reason to plan your estate: Having a written estate plan will make things much easier on your descendants. They won’t have to wonder about your intentions, your desires for your health care, or what assets you want passed down to whom. Why not make things simpler for your loved ones?
  • Charitable gifts through an estate plan can lower your tax burden and make a lasting difference for LightHouse for the Blind, helping us plan our growth, strategize for the future and make an impact on the community.

To learn more about estate planning or how your planned gift can benefit the LightHouse, please contact 415-694-7333 or jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org.

New Employment Immersion Sessions

“Blind people forget that employers need them. We—the blind—have vast skillsets. We are scientists, artists, journalists, you name it. Often our blindness has nothing to do with our careers, except that it can make us stronger, and hiring us adds a diverse voice in the workplace. I remind my students that they truly are assets to any company. It’s not just a line we feed the students; it’s a reality Employment Immersion helps them discover.”—Employment Immersion Program Leader Kate Williams

Join the many LightHouse students who have found work through the LightHouse Employment Immersion Program. The program is for people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job.

The next Employment Immersion sessions are scheduled as follows:

  • August 23 through Thursday, September 22
    Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • October 11 through November 10
    Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
  • January 10 through February 9
    Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

To learn more, contact Employment Immersion Coordinator Wanda Pearson at WPearson@lighthouse-sf.org or call 415-694-7359.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Photo: Student and volunteer Dennis O’Hanlon tells the story of how the LightHouse assisted him in his journey back to work during the LightHouse Grand Opening Donor Event.

The LightHouse wishes to thank its devoted friends and community partners who have recently shown their support by providing significant funds to help our programs go further and reach higher:

Delong-Sweet Family Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Disability Communications Fund – for Technology Training
Robert Foster – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Patricia Heim and Sergius Lashutka – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Jerry Kuns and Theresa Postello – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Marco A. Vidal Fund – for general operating support – LightHouse of Marin
Jane and Robert Micks – for general operating support – LightHouse North Coast
Mutual of America – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Susan O’Sullivan – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
The Palisades Educational Foundation – for general operating support
Fred Ruhland – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Frederic and Kristine Silva – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Todd Stevenot and Anne Sandbach – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Telecare Corporation – for Superfest International Disability Film Festival
Wells Fargo – for sponsorship for our Grand Opening Celebration and for Employment Immersion
Workday Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp

Want to Learn the Basics of How People Plan Their Estate?

Come lunch with an expert, see the new LightHouse Building and what’s happening inside.

Join us for an educational workshop on “Estate Planning 101” and learn about the fundamentals of estate planning in California.

When: Friday, July 15th at 10:30 a.m.
Where: LightHouse for the Blind, 1155 Market Street, 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

Our presenter, Betsy Cannon, is an authority on the subject and will lead the discussion. Betsy Cannon is a partner in the firm of Plageman, Lund & Cannon LLP, where she practices in the areas of estate planning, and trust and estate administration. She received her Juris Doctor from Notre Dame Law School, and her Bachelor of Arts in Business and Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is currently a member of the San Francisco Estate Planning Council; the State Bar of California (Estate Planning, Probate & Trust sections); and the American Bar Association (Real Property, Trust & Probate section).  Betsy lives in San Francisco with her husband and their two children.

Please RSVP to Jennifer Sachs, Director of Development, at jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org or 415.694.7333.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Caption: Former LightHouse Board member Joseph Chan stands next to the Joseph K. Chan Low Vision Center at the LightHouse

The LightHouse wishes to thank its devoted friends and community partners who have recently shown their support by providing significant funds to help our programs go further and reach higher:

Disability Communications Fund – for Technology Training
Robert Foster – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Don and Peggy Fromm – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Andrew Kebbel – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Lucas Family Foundation – for Superfest: International Disability Film Festival
Marco A. Vidal Fund – general operating support – LightHouse of Marin
Susan O’Sullivan – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
The Palisades Educational Foundation – for general operating support
Safeway Foundation – for Employment Immersion
Wells Fargo – for sponsorship for our Grand Opening Celebration and for Employment Immersion

Healthy Minds, Healthy Outlook – An Interview with LightHouse Psychologist Connie Conley-Jung

The following is one in a monthly series featuring the extraordinary people who make up the LightHouse staff.

Dr. Connie Conley-Jung provides critical therapeutic services to students who express an interest in working with a psychological counselor. Before coming to the LightHouse in 2013, Dr. Conley-Jung worked in a variety of community mental health settings, including the Ann Martin Center in Emeryville and Through the Looking Glass in Berkeley, serving children, teens and adults, many of whom were challenged by learning and physical disabilities as well as chronic health issues. In addition to working at the LightHouse, Dr. Conley-Jung has a private psychotherapy practice in Alameda.

Dr. Conley-Jung has developed her expertise based on education and experience, but she knows of what she speaks on a personal level. She told us, “I’ve been legally blind since birth, so I understand some of the anxieties, concerns and questions people have about their experiences as they adjust to living with blindness or low vision. It is important to remember that blindness represents only a singular attribute or aspect of a person: blindness does not define the individual.” Appreciating these points is crucial in working with our community. Some therapists and other healthcare providers may be less familiar with blindness and therefore more inclined to regard an individual’s blindness as a major obstacle.

Dr. Conley-Jung explains, “People who experience changes in their vision were historically thought of as automatically needing psychological services to help them ‘cope.’ That is not my orientation, nor how LightHouse views blindness or psychological services. We allow our students to determine if they would benefit from counseling. Furthermore, in my sessions I work with the whole student, navigating with them to discern what matters most to them. Sometimes we discuss financial angst, family and relationship concerns, career transitions and other topics in addition to their experiences with their vision.”

Counseling and psychotherapy are useful tools for people undergoing major life adjustments. Dr. Conley-Jung emphasizes, “I help people move beyond fear, anxiety and judgment by talking through their concerns and identifying steps my clients can take to make lasting, positive changes. Part of why therapy is so beneficial is directly related to the high level of privacy and confidentiality within the therapist-client relationship. Students feel safe knowing that they won’t be judged, and that other people will not be informed about their participation in therapy without their expressed permission.”

Dr. Conley-Jung goes on to explain, “LightHouse is a blind-positive place, which is extremely important and wonderful; however, it’s important to provide a place for people to ‘let their hair down’ and grapple with the internal dialogue we all have, whether it’s blindness related or otherwise. In fact, some students may think their concerns are related to blindness, but as we delve deeper we may discover that their presenting difficulties stem from multiple sources or causes which may be unrelated to blindness.”

“It’s important for students to know that psychotherapy isn’t just about problem solving; I assist people in identifying and realizing their hopes and dreams too,” Dr. Conley-Jung says with a contagious energy and enthusiasm. “Students may be going through important life changes, and those changes are often positive. For example, I work with many clients who are referred to me by DOR (Department of Rehabilitation) with the specific goal of helping them attain employment. For some clients, this may be their first time looking for a job. They’re often excited about their future financial independence, and together we discover many personal strengths that translate directly into employability.”

When asked if there are any myths that Dr. Conley-Jung would like to dispel, she named several: “You don’t have to have a diagnosis or a mental illness to benefit from psychotherapy. You don’t need a doctor’s note to receive my services. Though you need to identify as a person who is blind or visually impaired to work with me and seek other services at the LightHouse, blindness does not have to be the main motivation for meeting with me. In fact, it’s important to know, you don’t have to be ‘legally blind’ (a very technical term) to make an appointment with me. Also, I am highly connected to other mental health professionals and healthcare providers, which means that I can recommend or refer you to other doctors and therapists if the need arises.

Our new Headquarters in San Francisco is already enhancing the quality and scope of psychological services LightHouse can provide. Dr. Conley-Jung explains, “We have more space for group therapy. Clients have a comfortable area to wait before their sessions, and we have room to grow. The new building enables us to offer family and couples counseling, providing the flexibility to include an individual’s significant others along the way as it becomes helpful.” She continues, “Students of the LightHouse should know that we also have psychological services in the East Bay.” Staff member Rachel Longan facilitates our Mind’s Eye therapy group at the Ed Roberts campus in Berkeley. Students participating in this group are able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding setting with a group of peers who are exploring similar aspects of their lives. LightHouse is also planning future LGBTQ groups, and is actively looking to grow our psychological services to reach other communities on a regular basis.

One of the greatest benefits to receiving psychological services at the LightHouse is the built-in sensitivity around blindness. Everyone from our receptionists to our service providers and CEO are familiar with blindness. In fact many are themselves blind, and all of our staff are understanding and encouraging.

Of course, Dr. Conley-Jung has a vibrant life outside of the LightHouse and counseling. “I was a competitive skier, participating in the Paralympics in 1984 with LightHouse friend and mentor, Mike May.” Dr. Conley-Jung is being modest: she placed second in the world for competitive downhill skiing, and she did so while she was a full-time student at Stanford University. “Skiing with other athletes with disabilities opened my consciousness to other types of disabilities, and instilled in me a strong desire to work within the disability community.” Dr. Conley-Jung also visits her family in Nevada, where she was born and raised, and still finds herself dashing through powdery Western snowdrifts.

In closing, Dr. Conley-Jung has this to share: “The most important bit of advice I can relay is a reframing of most people’s question: ‘Do I need therapy?’ The question should instead be ‘Might I benefit from therapy?’ If you answer ‘Yes, I might benefit,’ then you should make an appointment today.”

If you’d like to learn more about LightHouse’s psychological services, please take a look at our website at (http://lighthouse-sf.org/programs/counseling-psychological-services/ ) or contact Dr. Connie Conley-Jung via email at cjung@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone (415) 694-7307.

Are you 55 or older? Would you Like Some Individualized Support Clarifying Your Personal Goals this Summer?

Are you an older (55+) adult with recent vision loss? Would you like some cost-free help navigating the new challenges that you are experiencing? The LightHouse is offering a new program for you this summer. Reevaluate your future, set goals and initiate plans with six free one-hour sessions with our staff.

These short-term supportive sessions will help you get individualized assistance so you can get back on your feet and feel good about yourself.

  • Prioritize – you can’t do everything at once. We will help you break it down and get started, one step at a time.
  • Problem solve challenges with daily tasks/activities.
  • Revise your life plan or goals, whether leisure or work related.
  • Navigate changes in relationships with family and friends.
  • Reduce social isolation by finding ways to reconnect to your community. You are not alone.

For further details and to get started, please contact Dr. Connie Conley-Jung, Clinical Psychologist at the LightHouse by phone at 415-694-7307 or by email at cjung@lighthouse-sf.org.