“I’m so glad that you called.” – said Isabelle, a LightHouse community member in response to a recent Caring Call.
Being a person who is blind or low vision can be isolating. Even prior to the pandemic we are currently facing, far too many people who are blind stay at home, fearful of going out in the world.
Under ordinary circumstances LightHouse works relentlessly to combat this isolation, bringing blind people together in immersive classes and growing a community of support, learning and engagement. But now, as we do our part to flatten and lengthen the curve, LightHouse is finding new and meaningful ways to keep making life-changing connections, despite the limitations of shelter in place.
In response to the mandated social distancing which closed LightHouse offices in March, LightHouse has begun making Caring Calls. Almost one-third of our staff are making thousands of calls to LightHouse community members, checking in on their mental and physical well-being. Staff compiled resource lists for all twelve Bay Area counties with information on getting groceries, eviction and legal resources and transit information. The calls let people know about our new remote programming to foster dialogue, encourage our community’s use of accessible technology to stay connected, ideas on how to maintain fitness and a host of new options for blind people of all ages.
For example, Coffee with Mike Cole, a weekly in-person get together at the LightHouse where people talk about a variety of topics, is now offered by Zoom and phone. In this time of seclusion, this opportunity for camaraderie has proven quite popular, and participation has tripled. Some students are even opting to receive a regular call from a volunteer who checks in on how they are doing.
Isabelle, a 67-year-old student visited the LightHouse to learn white cane skills last year. In a recent call, she told us that, although she was doing fine and had moved in with her family to ensure that she has ready access to meals, she still felt tremendously displaced and disconnected. The LightHouse staff member was able to refer Isabelle to a LightHouse therapist to receive services remotely during this challenging time.