The June 2023 CVCL students and staff stand outside LightHouse headquarters. They are lined up behind an orange barricade

“Changing Vision Changing Life” Changes Locations

On June 4, LightHouse students were planning travel to Enchanted Hills Camp (EHC) in Napa for Changing Vision Changing Life (CVCL), a week-long immersive program for people new to blindness, having low vision, or who’ve had a recent change in their vision.  
 
But on Friday, June 2, they got the news that there would be a last-minute change from Napa to San Francisco as CVCL relocated to the Student Residences at LightHouse San Francisco headquarters.
 
The LightHouse staff quickly adapted and assigned students to dorm rooms, reserved rooms at LightHouse for classes and adapted Orientation & Mobility lessons from the sloping paths of camp to sidewalks of San Francisco, that were sprinkled with construction barricades.
 
A few of the CVCL students were kind enough to share their thoughts on a week of learning new skills and connecting with other students with changing vision.
 
Joseph Keery
 
“I was disappointed that we couldn’t go to Napa. But then thinking about the intake I did with [LightHouse Rehabilitation Counselor] Debbie Bacon, I realized my primary goal was to meet other people who are on the same journey. I’ve had experience facilitating many small groups and I know getting people who are experiencing the same thing together can be very powerful. I have many friends and family, but they’re not visually impaired. They’re empathetic, but they’re not experiencing it. Getting together with others experiencing vision changes was my main goal.
 
“My secondary goal was to get some technology training because I don’t do much technology and I knew that I needed to upgrade my skills. I was not excited about the idea of being cooped up in a room on Market Street, but the [LightHouse] facility is absolutely amazing. Going through LightHouse and looking at the design and the artwork was wonderful.”
 
CVCL student Diane Nichols addressed an issue that people with changing vision often face, which is isolation from loved ones.
 
“I’ve been losing my vision for 22 years. One of the hardest things is that I feel like my friends and my family don’t understand and I think they are scared. It’s scary for me to think of how I’m going to take care of myself when I get older. I think some of my friends have pulled away because they’re afraid of me being dependent on them. I tried to tell them ‘I’ll figure things out.’
 
“Despite this, I’ve had a pretty positive attitude, but now that I’ve finished CVCL, I have a much more positive attitude. It was so wonderful to be around all these people who are being proactive and figuring out what they need to do to have a rich life and it’s just lifted me up so much.
 
“Now I can say to my family and friends “These are all the things I’ve learned, and these are the resources I have.”
 
Margaret “Meg” Gorman shared how LightHouse staff and attending CVCL gave her the tools to regain her independence and a community that she could talk to.
 
“A little more than a year ago, I went in for my third major abdominal surgery and when I came out, I was fundamentally blind. It was quite a shock. I was still driving; I was still teaching and having a very full life when suddenly everything came to a screeching halt.
 
“Well, I couldn’t pay my rent, so I had to move. I didn’t know how I was going to live as a blind person. Then I got the number to LightHouse and talked to [Social Worker] Jeff Carlson and he said, ‘We need to get you a Orientation & Mobility person right away.’ Then this man arrived at my door in the middle of my moving boxes being everywhere named Robert [Alminana]. He saw me through my move and taught me how to walk with a white cane. His kindness, warmth and support was like a lifeline to me.
 
“Then I started seeing Fernando [Macias-Larios] to work on technology and he really is patient with me. He said ‘You should go to CVCL,’ so I signed up.  Since I’ve been here, it’s been such a wonderful week. When we got the news that we were going to be at a dorm somewhere in San Francisco, I thought, ‘Well this is not so bad. They’re just being flexible.’ We get here and here I am in this fabulous building and I get a roommate to die for. It’s wonderful to be with other people who are also struggling with sight loss and know that you’re not alone.”
 
LightHouse will continue to offer CVCL both at EHC and LightHouse San Francisco several times a year. If you would like to learn more about this program, contact Debbie Bacon at DBacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 530-400-0355.