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.