Tag Archive

30% and Growing

This Month’s 30% & Growing Welcomes Back Former LightHouse Employee and Host, Serena Olsen

This Month’s 30% & Growing Welcomes Back Former LightHouse Employee and Host, Serena Olsen

Since April of 2016, LightHouse has been hosting a monthly meet up and casual networking social hour for blind and low vision jobseekers and working professionals called 30% & Growing. The name references the percentage of blind adults who were employed in the United States when the program first started.

Back then, the program was hosted by former LightHouse employee Serena Olsen. When the pandemic hit, we took 30% & Growing from busy Bay Area restaurants and pubs to Zoom. The virtual platform opened up the invitation to blind adults all over. In December of last year, our beloved 30% & Growing hostess Serena left the LightHouse and passed the baton onto our witty, friendly, and charismatic Community Outreach Coordinator, Sheri Albers.

Sheri has been a delightful virtual hostess for the past several months and has put her own flare and fun into the 30% & Growing meetups, introducing a blind or low vision guest of honor at each monthly event. This month we welcome back our dear friend and new Bay Area blogger, Serena Olsen.

“I enjoy hosting the program very much. I recognized its value from the very first time I started attending as a guest over a year ago, and I wanted to make sure that it continued, as well as the spirit that it was founded on,” says Sheri.

Every third Thursday of the month. about ten adults who are blind or have low vision come together from all over to spend quality time sharing stories, laughter and resources.

“Each meetup seems to be unique on its own,” Sheri says. “I enjoyed and received a very positive response from the April event when I introduced yoga and meditation as a coping mechanism for the stress of working at home during the pandemic.”

Vidya, a regular attendee, reflects on her favorite 30% & Growing moments.

“I find 30% to be like a mystery box, as you never know where conversations can lead. In one session we had a young lady who was launching her own drink product and was in the process of pitching her ideas to get funding. During the next session, she shared that she had received the first round of funding to launch the product. It was so inspiring to see blind entrepreneurs with the drive, motivation, passion and energy to find opportunities in the marketplace. It was heartening to hear such stories that provide motivation for the rest of us.

“For me, 30% is an opportunity to connect with working blind community members and to get exposure to how other people manage and meet challenges with working and blindness in their everyday lives. I use the meetups for building self-motivation, positive thinking and independent living.”

As we begin reopening public spaces, LightHouse is excitedly awaiting the “ok” to resume 30% & Growing in person.

Sheri is enthusiastic for that day.

“Once we get the green light, I want to get the 30%ers back out into the world where we can have our Happy Hours done right! That is what this event was created for!”

For more information about 30% & Growing, you can visit our  online calendar. To RSVP to this month’s event on Thursday, May 20 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm, email Sheri at SAlbers@lighthouse-sf.org or give her a call at 415-694-7331. Check out Serena’s blog at ItStartsWithQuiche.com.

Learn more about LightHouse’s Adult and Community Services Programs on our website.

White Cane Day October 15: A Day of Celebration at LightHouse

White Cane Day October 15: A Day of Celebration at LightHouse

LightHouse has a lot to celebrate this Thursday, October 15 which is White Cane Day. This is a day to recognize the presence, equality and achievements of people who are blind or have low vision. In 1964, a joint resolution by the United States Congress was signed into law. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first White Cane Day proclamation a few hours later.

October 15 also happens to be the birth date of James Holman. Holman is the namesake of LightHouse’s Holman Prize for Blind Ambition, an award given annually to three blind people with ambitious ideas. James Holman was a 19thcentury British explorer who was known as “The Blind Traveler.” Holman was the most prolific private traveler of anyone, blind or sighted, before the era of modern transportation. To learn more about his incredible story, you can read “A Sense of the World” by author Jason Roberts.

Throughout October, we’re offering 10% off white canes and accessories at our Adaptations Store.  You can order white canes and cane accessories on the Adaptations Website, call 1-888-400-8933 or contact the team at Adaptations using the Be My Eyes app on your smart phone.

Finally, end your celebration of White Cane Day with LightHouse’s 30% & Growing Virtual Meetup, a relaxed setting to talk all things blind employment on Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This month’s guest is Domonique Lawless, who teaches cane travel at the Virginia Rehabilitation Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired and hosts a podcast on the world of blind employment. Contact Serena Olsen at SOlsen@lighthouse-sf.org and let her know you’ll be there.

Hang Out with Friends and Potential Mentors at 30% and Growing

Hang Out with Friends and Potential Mentors at 30% and Growing

Photo:  Members of the 30% and Growing Club hang out at the Albatross Pub in Berkeley: (Left to right) Aly Slaughter, Laura Millar, Josh Miele, Christina Daniels and Event Coordinator Serena Olsen.

Depending on where you get your statistics, 57-70% of working-age blind people are unemployed. But what if we turned that statistic on its head? What if, instead of agonizing over the dauntingly high unemployment rate among blind people, we reframe and consider that at least 30% of blind people are fully employed? Well we’ve done just that. On the third Thursday of each month, the LightHouse celebrates working blind people at our 30% & Growing blind professionals networking meet-ups in San Francisco and the East Bay.

In a thriving metropolis like the Bay Area, every conceivable profession has a meet up group, but where do aspiring-to-be-fully-employed blind people have the same opportunity?

30% & Growing creates that space where being a fully employed blind person is perfectly normal. It’s a space where busy working blind people can take a quick time out to connect with their peers, enjoy some libations, and argue with their friends about current events—just like any other worker bees at the end of a work day.

With 30% & Growing, we intend to grow the ranks of our fully employed working-age blind people by leveraging this tremendous resource for those coming up in the ranks or even thinking about it. Blind job seekers now have this monthly resource available to them allowing them to learn from those that came before them and cull advice about their professions of interest and the unique experience of navigating a career as a blind person.

But we don’t just network – we laugh a lot. We’re serious and social, taking in the buzz of a variety of local watering holes and restaurants across San Francisco and the East Bay, sampling craft beers, wines or cocktails and sating our palate with light snacks and appetizers. More importantly, 30% and Growing offers connection, dialogue, relationships, and community, and a time and place to go out with friends and colleagues for happy hour, just like any other hard-working tax payer.

For information on upcoming gatherings please contact Serena Olsen, Adult Program Coordinator, at solsen@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7316.