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Community

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.

Sign Up Now for Employment Immersion Sessions for October, January

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.

“Blind people forget that employers need them. We—the blind—have vast skill sets. 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

The next Employment Immersion sessions are scheduled as follows:

Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103

When:
October 11 through November 10, 2016

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

January 10 through February 9, 2017
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

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
The Annunziata Sanguinetti Foundation – for Community Services (SF Youth only) and Enchanted Hills Camp Scholarships
Jennison Assuncion – for Technology Training
Lisa Carvalho and David Mager – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse and General Support
Simon Cherry – For youth scholarships to Enchanted Hills Camp
Core Financial Corporation – to support Yoga at our Changing Vision Changing Life immersion sessions
Delta Gamma Fraternity/UC Davis – Delta Chi Chapter – 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
Francis North Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Elizabeth Freer and Michael Headley – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Genentech – for Changing Vision Changing Life programs
Herbst Foundation – for the Herbst 10th Floor Reception and Community Learning Center
Mark Cavagnero Associates – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Mutual of America – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse
Rotary Club of Napa – for Enchanted Hills Camp through Cycle for Sight 2016
Salesforce – for the Campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse and General Support
Michele Spitz – for Superfest and to underwrite tickets to cultural events
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
Toyota Partner Robot Group – for the Innovation Lab Sponsored by Toyota

Join the LightHouse For Its First-Ever Blind Soldering Workshop in November

Photo: Close-up of a flame being used to solder wire.

The LightHouse is holding its first-ever soldering workshop for people who are blind or have low vision.

Soldering is an essential skill for prototyping and building electronics. While many blind people can solder with skill and safety, working with delicate components and high-temperature molten solder can be daunting for beginners.

Who: Adults 18 and up who are blind or have low vision.
When: Friday, November 4 through Sunday, November 6, 2016.
Attendees are welcome to check-in as early as 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 4. The program begins at 5:00 p.m. that day and lasts through noon on Sunday, November 6.
Where: the LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th floor, San Francisco, 94103.
Cost: $300 which includes overnight accommodations in our new Student Residences and material fees.
Deadline to apply is Friday, October 28. Payment secures your spot.

During this weekend-long workshop, attendees will be offered a unique opportunity to learn non-visual soldering techniques from some of the most skilled and experienced blind solderers in the world. In addition to gaining hands-on experience with a soldering iron, students will finish the workshop with an understanding of the metallurgy behind the use of flux and solder, as well as a strong foundation in the practical aspects of electronics soldering.

Students will be guided in building their own accessible continuity tester – one of the most fundamental and flexible tools for electronics work without vision. Workshop tuition includes the basic tools needed for soldering, with the continuity tester, soldering station, and other tools yours to keep at the conclusion of the workshop.

This workshop will be facilitated by Dr. Joshua Miele, Associate Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Low Vision and Blindness, Creative Director of LightHouse Labs, and founder of the Blind Arduino Project. Our team of highly-qualified soldering instructors all have decades of experience building electronics and teaching non-visual soldering techniques to students with a broad range of experience.

For more information or to apply to the first-ever LightHouse soldering workshop, contact Director of Community Services Lisamaria Martinez via email at info@lighthouse-sf.org or by phone at 415-431-1481.

Two-Week YES Academy Takes Blind Kids from San Francisco to Orlando to More Independence

Photo: YES group sit around one of the many tables in the conference hall. LightHouse Youth Coordinator Jamey Gump sits at 9 o’clock, then going clockwise around the table: student Kyle Garcia, LightHouse mentor Sergio Lopez, student Billy Lei, LightHouse mentor Danielle Fernandez, students Robin Patche, Kevin Brousard, Christina Parra, Santiago Hernandez and Jacob Obeso.

In July close to a dozen LightHouse Youth attended our inaugural YES Academy – a two-week session for students ages 16 to 24 with the aim of teaching them to be more independent, confident and successful. During the first week of the training, students stayed at the new LightHouse Building in San Francisco. The students experienced full days that included classroom work, assignments and challenges both inside and outside our offices, mixed with time to relax, talk, have fun, compare notes and enjoy making friends and bonding with fellow blind students.

students in teaching kitchen

Photo: YES Academy students gather in our teaching kitchen for lunch.

Throughout the first week students benefited from a robust curriculum including outstanding blind college students as well as blind speakers representing a wide variety of career choices, a tour of the UC Berkeley campus, discussions that focused on becoming more independent and on finding work, including the use of adaptive technology, the importance of organization, best practices for writing resumes and cover letters and how to go on a job interview. They also experienced the excitement and fun of navigating the Bay Area while practicing their mobility skills. They traveled throughout the San Francisco on public transportation, participated in the San Francisco Pride Parade, walked across the Golden Gate Bridge, visited Pier 39 and went to the movies (using the recently-launched Disney Movies Anywhere audio-description iPhone app to watch the film Finding Dory.)

 

students cross golden gate bridge

Photo: Brandishing white canes and dog guides, YES Academy students cross the Golden Gate Bridge.

YES Academy and Fortune Dragon

Photo: Students Christina Parra, Robin Patche and Moe Josefowicz stand next to the colorful Fortune Dragon statue that sits in front of San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

Week two brought the adventure all had been waiting for: the cross-country flight to Orlando, Florida where the group attended the annual National Federation of the Blind (NFB) National Convention. For some it was their very first time on an airplane. LightHouse Youth Services Coordinator Jamey Gump, who supervised the group throughout the two-week period told us, “The kids pretty much were struck by the scale and diversity of the conference right away. Imagine you are maybe the only kid in your school or in your community who is blind. Now imagine the impact of walking into a hall where there are thousands of blind people with their white canes or dog guides. Or attending a huge banquet where pretty much everyone there can relate in one way or another to your life experience? That’s amazingly empowering.”

Serena and Santiago

Photo: LightHouse Evening and Weekend Coordinator Serena Olsen stands with student Santiago Hernandez next to seated audience members in the NFB Conference Hall.

Included in their schedule: exploring the Exhibit Hall where vendors displayed adaptive technology and attending the Conference General Session, the National Association of Blind Students seminar and a youth mixer with kids from all across the country including Arizona and Maryland.

LightHouse Evening and Weekend Coordinator Serena Olsen, who supervised the kids overnight and in Orlando loved seeing changes in the kids, even in such a short period of time. She said, “Overall I saw a growing awareness among the group that it’s “okay” to be blind. I watched them become more comfortable in their own skin as blind people. For some or all of them there’s this idea of leaving home for the first time and that you can’t take your parents with you to, say, college. YES Academy gave them the chance to try new strategies and succeed, or even fail sometimes, in a safe space.”

Student Sarkis (Sako) Meehran Gekchyan summed up the feelings of many who attended, by saying, “The experience I had at The YES Academy was invaluable. I can safely say that no other program for the blind that I have participated in has impacted me so strongly, so positively and so permanently as this one. The lessons I have learned from staying at the LightHouse and the NFB convention have stuck. Doing this program was exactly what I needed. I was able to see blind people who took charge of their lives and were making a positive change not only for themselves but for others. I learned a lot both from my fellow students and the speakers and the mentors. It was the first time I ever felt a deep sense of pride in my blindness, the first time I actually felt like a part of the blind Community. The very people I once tried to distance myself from are now one of my greatest sources of inspiration and most importantly my second family.”

If you have any questions about YES Academy, please contact Youth Services Coordinators Jamey Gump at jgump@lighthouse-sf.org/415-694-7372 or Richie Flores at rflores@lighthouse-sf.org/415-694-7328.

Throughout the year we hold individual LightHouse YES workshops. Our first workshop is on Saturday, September 10.

Read more about YES workshops.

Off the Page Volunteer Event Presented by Oracle a Huge Success

Photo: Oracle volunteers working with braille in the MADLab printing room.

Last month we held our first Off the Page Volunteer Event, presented by Oracle, and it was a win-win experience for all parties. Twelve excited Oracle volunteers arrived at the new LightHouse Building to provide reading services, assistance with resumes and guided tours of Sound Commons, the new art installation presented by the Exploratorium that is across the street from the LightHouse. But that’s not all. Oracle volunteers also assisted with making up the beds in our Student Residences, helped our Rehabilitation Department prep for the next Changing Vision Changing Life Immersion session and collated braille material in our MADLab.

A huge Thank You to our wonderful volunteers from Oracle. Here’s what a few of our students had to say:

“It was nice to hear from someone who has experience in the field I want to work in. My volunteer helped me by going over my resume and giving me tips on how to improve it, and he added value to my resume by providing content. While he did not need to read anything for me, he gave me valuable tips and information on what to expect in an office setting. I really enjoyed working with Oracle volunteers and if they were to volunteer again I would definitely participate.”
LightHouse student Chris S.

“Thank you so much for arranging for volunteer reader Chanel to work with me. She was terrific! I hope she continues to connect with the LightHouse. I got everything accomplished I wanted to. She listened carefully to how I wanted things done and with great intelligence, we got through everything just fine. I took a few minutes to write out the alphabet in braille on a 3×5 card for her and she was fascinated. So, thanks for arranging the day.”
LightHouse student Gil J.

oracle volunteers selfie

Oracle volunteers pose for a group selfie.

Participate in Off the Page
Off The Page is a LightHouse volunteer event which connects corporate volunteer readers to those who need reading and resume overview services.

Our next Off the Page event is Saturday, October 29 and we’d love for you to join us. To sign up, please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org.

We also can match you with a volunteer on another day.
If you’d like to meet with a volunteer reader here at the LightHouse on some other day, we can set this up. Please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at 415-694-7320 or volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org.

Would you like to volunteer?
We are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers who want to give back for a single day or any amount of time. If you’re interested in becoming a Personal Service Volunteer or would like to learn more about how to get your professional or school group involved in volunteering for the LightHouse, please contact Justine Harris-Richburgh, our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org, 415-694-7320 or complete your group or individual volunteer application  – we would love to have you!

Volunteer

World of Sex Workshop Series

Photo: Portrait of Workshop Leader Laura Millar

Join LightHouse Sexual Health Services Program Coordinator Laura Millar, MPH, M.A., as she guides you in our groundbreaking series focusing on sex and sexuality. We will explore different sex-positive communities, lifestyle sub-cultures and the organizations that serve them.

To start the series off we invite you to the following workshop and field trip this month.

Introduction to BDSM
Who:
Adults (ages 18 and older) who are blind or have low vision. You may bring an adult guest with you.
When: Thursday, September 22, 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Where: the new LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103

This workshop is designed to demystify BDSM and introduce participants to topics related to BDSM. The presenter is a member the Society of Janus. There will be plenty of time for discussion and Q & A.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone415-431-1481.

Field Trip to the Folsom Street Fair
For those still curious and wanting to learn more about BDSM and the fetish community, we will be taking a group of participants, and sex positive volunteers out to the Folsom Street Fair.

Folsom Street Fair is an annual BDSM and leather subculture fair that takes place every September. It provides a safe space for self-expression and entertainment and is open to the public. Please note that this event is for adults only and is mature in content. If you are unfamiliar with BDSM or the Folsom street fair and would like to go with us, we highly recommend you attend the introductory workshop on Thursday, September 22. Also please note, there is a $10 suggested donation to enter the fair; proceeds raised benefit local sex positive charities and public health agencies.

Who: Adults (ages 18 and older) who are blind or have low vision. You may bring an adult guest with you.
When: Sunday, September 25
Where: We will meet at the LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, San Francisco, 94103
The fair location is on Folsom Street, between 8th and 13th streets.

Agenda
Pre-Opening Tour: All who wish to do a guided tour of the fair before it is open to the public, please meet at the LightHouse between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. We will walk about 15 minutes and then take a 45 minute tour of the fair. We will then return to the LightHouse to pick up those who wish to experience the fair itself.

Attending the Fair:
If you would like to attend the fair itself, meet at the LightHouse at 10:30 a.m. We will walk about 15 minutes and then meet up with sex-positive LightHouse volunteers who can be your sighted guide as you explore the fair. At 12:30 p.m. those who wish to return to the LightHouse with the group will meet while those who wish to stay may do so.

For more information or to sign up, please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone 415-431-1481.


About the Workshop Leader

Laura Millar joins the LightHouse team as the Program Coordinator for Sexual Health Services. Legally blind herself with a Master of Public Health as well as a Masters in Sexuality Studies, she will be conducting research that examines how individuals with vision loss learn about and navigate the world of dating, sex and intimate relationships. In this role she will be offering workshops, trainings and in-services for individuals who are blind or have low vision, their family members and the organizations that serve them, ensuring that sexual health information and services are comprehensive, inclusive and accessible for everyone.

The LightHouse is pleased to be in a unique position to expand its services in this area. We know that for many, just talking about sex and sexual health can make many people feel uncomfortable. For people experiencing vision loss and the professionals that serve them, navigating these sensitive conversations poses its own unique set of challenges. Laura is here to help make those conversations a little easier for everyone. If you have questions about Laura’s role, the work she will be doing, or would like to talk to her please feel free to e-mail her at info@lighthouse-sf.org or call her at 415-431-1481. She would love to hear from you.

If you have other topics you would like to propose for the World of Sex series, or ideas about how to be more involved with this series please contact Laura Millar via e-mail at info@lighthouse-sf.org or telephone 415-431-1481.

Thank You to Our Community Partners

Michele Spitz

Photo: Thank you to Michele Spitz (pictured) for generously donating funds for LightHouse students to attend concerts, museums and participate in some of the Bay Area’s incredible arts events.  Recently the entire Music Academy group of young blind musicians attended a concert by Snarky Puppy at SF Jazz and a LightHouse group will attend the Symphony’s opening concert in early September. Thank you Michele!

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
Simon Cherry – For youth scholarships to Enchanted Hills Camp
Core Financial Corporation – to support Yoga at our Changing Vision Changing Life immersion sessions
Delong-Sweet Family Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Delta Gamma Fraternity/UC Davis – Delta Chi Chapter – 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
Workday Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp

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.

Would You Like to Know More about LightHouse Services or Take a Tour of the New LightHouse? Talk to Esmeralda Soto, our new Information Concierge.

The LightHouse has established a new helpful point of contact when you first enter the organization. Our new Information Concierge, Esmeralda Soto, who has worked for the LightHouse for over two years, will now be available to take your questions in person or over the phone Monday through Friday.

Esmeralda is blind herself and knows about the many programs and services at the LightHouse not generally known to the community. If you have questions about LightHouse services or general questions about blindness, give Esmeralda a call. She may be able to talk with you right then and there, or she will schedule an appointment with you for a later phone or in-person conversation.

Information Concierge Hours
Monday through Friday: 9:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Call Esmeralda at 415-694-7323 or email your questions to info@lighthouse-sf.org.

Tour the new LightHouse offices
We’d love to show you our headquarters offices.

Designed with the abilities of blind and low vision people in mind, the new headquarters shows the latest subtle thinking about how to create a warm, welcoming and knowable space, easy to navigate and fun to work inside. The new offices feature a dedicated accessible fitness room, a blindness skills training kitchen, a blind technology demo lab and a volunteer center, all just 15 steps from a BART and MUNI station.

We have tours available without an appointment every Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. (Please sign-in by 9:45.) Or schedule an appointment with Esmeralda Soto at 415-694-7323.