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Leave a Legacy – Free Planned Giving Seminar at the LightHouse on February 27, 2015

Alma Soongi Beck, Esq.Please join us at the LightHouse in February to learn more about planned giving and charitable bequests in an informative workshop hosted by Alma Soongi Beck, Esq.:

Planned Giving: How it benefits you as well as the community

A discussion on how estate planning can help you achieve your personal goals while helping the organizations that you care about further their mission.

Where: LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters
When: Friday, February 27th
at 10:30 a.m.
Complimentary lunch to follow.
Please RSVP by February 23rd to Laura Lee Mattingly at lmattingly@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7309.

Our Presenter: Alma Soongi Beck, Esq. is a Certified Specialist, Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. She helps individuals, couples and families navigate issues relating to estates and trusts. Ms. Beck regularly gives seminars on estate planning for non-profit organizations and also leads diversity awareness and cross-cultural communication workshops for law firms, Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations.

What is a bequest?
The term “bequest” refers to a statement in your written will of your wish to provide charitable funding for LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It is also common to provide charitable designations through retirement plans or IRAs, life insurance policies, revocable and irrevocable trusts, and government savings bonds. Bequests have played an important role in making LightHouse programming possible since our establishment in 1902. Today bequests account for a major portion of the LightHouse’s endowment and funding, and sustain all aspects of the organizations services.

If you are like many LightHouse supporters, you know that the LightHouse is the preeminent organization providing training, advocacy and a thriving community for the blind and visually impaired. Whether it’s a family with a blind toddler attending Enchanted Hills or a senior who is learning skills to remain independent when adjusting to Macular Degeneration, the LightHouse is a beacon of hope and possibility.

Perhaps you have experienced LightHouse programs first-hand or are simply a caring and compassionate community member. By making a bequest or other planned gift, you can acknowledge LightHouse for the Blind in a meaningful way and make a lasting difference for the LightHouse and for your own personal legacy.

Want to discuss planned gifts opportunities or notify us of your intentions? Please contact Jennifer Sachs, Director of Development, at 415-694-7333 or jsachs@lighthouse-sf.org.

IRA Charitable Rollover — Act by December 31st

IRA Charitable Rollover — Act by December 31st

The president has signed a bill passing the IRA Charitable Rollover, which provides a tax break on charitable donations from IRAs — but only through December 31, 2014. Individuals 70½ or older may donate up to $100,000 directly from their IRAs to qualified charities without having the distribution included in their adjusted gross income. Charitable IRA Rollover for LightHouse

Clearly, eligible donors must act fast. Click here for a helpful explanation of the charitable IRA rollover and here for IRS information and forms, and consider making a contribution to the LightHouse today.


Thanks to our Community Partners

Thank you to the following individuals and corporations who have recently shown their support by providing significant funds to help our programs go further and reach higher:

Dodge and Cox – for unrestricted support
The George H. Sandy Foundation – for Enchanted Hills Camp
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation – for unrestricted support
Marmor Foundation – for unrestricted support
Packet Fusion – for our campaign for a 21st Century LightHouse

Calling all East Bay Residents – Volunteer in the New Year with the LightHouse

If you live in the East Bay, the LightHouse is looking for you. With the New Year, there’s been an increase in requests for services from those we serve that live in the East Bay. What better time than now to join the LightHouse as a Personal Services Volunteer.

Longtime friend and student of the LightHouse Lori Castner, who lives in the East Bay told us, “Unfortunately for us, our former LightHouse volunteer has moved out of the area. He was wonderful – he worked with me and my husband for ten years and in that time became more than a volunteer, he became a friend. He assisted us in so many ways – for example, during the elections he helped us complete our absentee ballots. He helped us get birthday, anniversary and holiday cards out on time. With the help of a Personal Services Volunteer, it just takes us so much less time to run errands and get through tasks like sorting through mail and completing paperwork. It makes a huge difference in the amount we can accomplish. We’re definitely looking forward to being matched with someone again here in the East Bay.”

Another LightHouse student, Employment Immersion graduate and East Bay resident Dennis Shepard and his wife Debrah Willard were just recently matched with a LightHouse Personal Services volunteer. “We’re thankful for our new volunteer. Our house runs 100% better when we have someone to help us every week. Especially with running errands and minor household projects – which can be interesting with two guide dogs in tow. We coordinate our schedules so it’s easy for everyone involved.”

There are many reasons to volunteer. Volunteering feels good and allows us to do our civic duty, gain experience that can be put on a resume and exercise our innate, human need to feel needed. The LightHouse has students in the Oakland and Berkeley East Bay area waiting to connect with and hear from you. Start 2015 off right by volunteering as a Personal Services Volunteer. Contact our Volunteer Engagement Specialist, Justine Harris-Richburgh, at volunteer@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7320.

LightHouse Student Dennis Shepard and his Guide Dog Harvard

We’re Off to See the Wizard – Get Tickets for January 10 and 11 Annual Great American Songbook Benefit

Enjoy the Songs of the Great Composer Harold Arlen and Support Enchanted Hills Camp

“Harold Arlen is the most original composer of all of us.” – George GershwinPortrait of Anne and Steve Gill








This year the Gill Family and friends continue their tradition of special concerts in honor of their daughter Anne, a longtime Enchanted Hills camper. New for 2015 is a rousing series of two concerts exploring the work of composer Harold Arlen of Wizard of Oz, Old Black Magic and It’s Only a Paper Moon fame.

What: Harold Who? A Tribute to Harold Arlen
When: Two Performances – Saturday, January 10 and Sunday January 11, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Spieker Ballroom at the Menlo School, Menlo Park
$15 donation requested. Seating is on a first come, first seated basis
All proceeds benefit our Enchanted Hills Camp Special Needs Session

For more information contact Steve or Nancy Gill at (650) 948-4648 or nancyggill@yahoo.com.

Partners Come Together at Enchanted Hills Retreat

Couples gather together for group photo

When a family member, spouse, partner or close friend becomes blind, predictably, questions and emotions come up for both the person and their family. While blindness training is available to the person who is new to low vision or blindness, the role of their sighted partner/counterpart and the nature of their partnership can be challenged. At the same time it’s an opportunity for learning, dialogue and connection with other couples that can turn out to be a pathway to understanding for both partners.

The LightHouse has had years of experience providing training to persons new to blindness or low vision and we have always understood that family and friends are key to successful learning. On a beautiful weekend last month, six couples from as far north as Elk (Mendocino Coast) and as far south as Watsonville joined LightHouse staff at Enchanted Hills Retreat for a concentrated dose of learning and sharing experiences. Throughout the weekend these supportive, fun and dedicated couples participated in conversation regarding the “adjustment” they were experiencing, both independently and together. They jumped with gusto into the interactive curriculum provided on Orientation and Mobility, Independent Living Skills and Access Technology.

For example, with the encouragement of their blind or low vision partner, each sighted partner had the opportunity to learn wearing a training eyeshade. The intent and outcome of this experience was to understand training methods, focusing on the task at hand, not what one can, or can’t see.  All partners participated without hesitation and walked away with newfound understanding.  Because the weekend was designed so that participants would learn by example, the blind or visually impaired spouse took the role of co-teacher of the hands-on skills. The weekend also included morning hikes, Saturday Happy Hour and the opportunity to listen to and talk with a panel of couples, including LightHouse Board members Josh Miele and Chris Downey and their sighted spouses, who are peers with similar life experiences.

Keh-Ming Lin, sighted husband of Wen-Ling Lin, developed an understanding of human-guide techniques, the value of the long cane, developing safe and effective knife skills for cooking without vision. Student Wen-Ling said, “Changing vision affects not only the person who is blind or low vision, but also that of their loved ones. I am so glad LightHouse has provided the rare opportunity for us to have the chance to tap into each other’s world, and helped to facilitate our continued dialogue of “changing vision, changing life.” Her husband, Keh-Ming said, “It was a truly enchanting weekend.”

If you or someone you know might be interested in Changing Vision Changing Life or future Couples training, please contact Debbie Bacon at dbacon@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-694-7357.

Keh-Ming Lin chops zucchini wearing a training shade as Wen-Ling Lin watches

Plan Your Charitable Giving Intelligently and Have Lunch on Us on September 12

Charitable Giving: Avoid the Chutes and Climb the Ladders
Charitable giving is not a game of chance – you get the opportunity to plan ahead. This session will provide tips on how to climb the philanthropic ladders while avoiding the troublesome chutes that threaten to undermine the best of intentions.

Free Seminar
Friday, September 12 at 10:30 a.m.
Complimentary Lunch to Follow
LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters
214 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco

To reserve your seat at the seminar, please RSVP by September 9, 2014 to Lisamaria Martinez at info@lighthouse-sf.org or 415-431-1481.

Susan Dawson
Our Presenter: Susan Dawson, ESQ is an attorney at Alder & Colvin, a law firm committed to serving the legal needs of nonprofits and philanthropists. She focuses her practice on tax, corporate, and charitable gift planning matters for a range of organizations.


Mind’s Eye Therapy Group Begins Again in September

Due to popular demand, LightHouse for the Blind’s Counseling and Psychological Services program will be offering a second set of therapy group sessions intended for individuals who are moving forward in their lives with recent changes in their vision. With guidance from our staff psychologist, Connie Conley-Jung, Ph.D., the Mind’s Eye facilitator, Ms. Rachel Longan, M.S. has thoughtfully designed this group for adults who are navigating this very personal journey.

Sudden or actively progressive vision changes can affect many aspects of a person’s life. Clients who are participating in this group are able to process their experiences in a safe and understanding setting.

Ms. Longan incorporates a variety of techniques and experiential exercises into each session. Some of the topics the group is covering include new challenges in relationships, social participation, and emotional factors commonly associated with adjusting to vision changes.

When: Tuesday afternoons, September 9 through December 2
Where: LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters

The group schedule has been extended into a 12-week series held on Tuesday afternoons at LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters, from September 9 through December 2, 2014. If you are interested in enrolling in this group please contact Ms. Rachel Longan at 415 694-7302 or rlonganlighthouse@gmail.com.

Rachel Longan has 8 years of experience conducting support groups and 5 years of supervised therapy hours in a variety of settings. Rachel is visually impaired and has co-facilitated a year-long support group specifically for individuals experiencing recent vision loss. Ms. Longan has guest lectured at the International Conference on Costello Syndrome and at UC Berkeley. She is a Registered Marriage and Family Intern at the LightHouse (supervised by Connie Conley-Jung, Ph.D.) and also works at the Pacific Center in Berkeley.

Rachel Longan

Help Blind Kids Take the Stage and Leave a Lasting Legacy in the Heart of Napa

Montage of campers playing musical instruments

Exciting changes are afoot at Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind, and we’re hoping you will help us move more indoor programming into the glorious outdoors, under the magnificent redwoods.

In partnership with the Kiwanis Club of Napa, the LightHouse has been constructing a stage and terraced seating in the natural bowl of the redwood grove right next to the rustic cabins where boys and girls have slept for sixty years. For the first time Enchanted Hills Camp will be able to take its music, plays and skits outside – all kinds of fun that for years could only take place in a Spartan indoor room.

With a contribution, you can have your name, or the name of someone you love, imprinted on a plaque which will forever be affixed to the seating we will be building for this miniature theater. The new construction is stunning, both acoustically and visually. But we need your help to complete it!

Below are links to our donation page where you can designate your donation in the following ways:

For a donation of $1,000
We will permanently remember those close to you on one of our Premier Benches. These benches are closest to the stage.

For a donation of $500
e will permanently remember those close to you on one of our General Benches.

Note: Please email us at lhnews@lighthouse-sf.org with your 60-character plaque dedication wording.

Or just donate any amount to the Redwood Grove Bench Fund.

Watch this video and be inspired by the magic of Enchanted Hills Camp.

Enchanted Hills offers experiences like none other for blind or low vision campers. Chances to try new things, be creative, experience the power of nature and have chances to shine! The confidence and self-esteem that campers gain is priceless and makes a lasting impact in their lives. And you have an opportunity to be a part of it, create a legacy, and help blind kids take the stage.

Your gift today will make it possible for generations of visually impaired and blind campers to challenge themselves, share their talents and show off a little to new friends, family and the wider blind community.

P.S. Over the years, 25,000 blind campers and their families have enjoyed our unique camp, the first in the west dedicated to blindness. Won’t you take a moment to enrich the experiences of the next 25,000 campers?

Donation Makes A Splash

In 1989, Helen Ames of Oakland, in her capacity as the president of the Charity League, made a generous contribution to support Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind. The $30,000 endowment fund supported sending low-income campers to Enchanted Hills. In 2011, in the wake of the financial crisis, a new law was implemented that affected endowment funds. The Uniform Prudent Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) required a hard separation of funds held under endowment from the LightHouse’s general portfolio. To comply, we transferred the endowment funds which had grown to $36,000 into a sequestered savings account, where it accrued limited interest. It was suggested by our contracted auditor that we contact the donor to request to use the corpus of the endowment for capital improvements.

Though Ms. Ames has passed, her grandson, Lawrence Ames III of San Francisco, graciously agreed to the proposal that we use his mother’s legacy to rejuvenate the pool area at Enchanted Hills. This winter, Ms. Ames, through her bequest, enabled us to remodel the bath and shower house; purchase a new filter, solar pool blanket and efficient heating system for the pool; install an accessible wheelchair lift and replace the tired pool furniture, tables, chairs and chaises. Thank you to the Ames family and all who contributed to the Charity League!

Contributions to the LightHouse and Enchanted Hills can sometimes provide physical improvements to our facilities, but more importantly our programs initiate change for the blind babies through gray hairs who benefit from the joy and learning offered by the LightHouse. To learn more about planned giving or to make a gift, contact 415-694-7333 or giving@lighthouse-sf.org.

Girl swimming in pool at Enchanted Hills Camp