Charting a course for Living, Learning and Earning with vision loss – this is Lighthouse Central Florida at its core!
Visual impairment doesn't have to break the human spirit. Through teaching, training, caring and compassion, Lighthouse Central Florida gives people with sight impairment the skills they need to achieve their full potential to live independently and maintain or increase their quality of life. It is truly a life-changing program.
Since 1976, Lighthouse Central Florida has provided education, independent life skills and job training and placement to more than 100,000 people with sight impairment and their families. But it's not just people with sight impairment who benefit; the entire community benefits through the productive contributions of skilled Lighthouse Central Florida graduates.
Lighthouse is Central Florida’s only private, non-profit agency offering a comprehensive range of services to people living with sight impairment. Through effective programs, proven curricula, certified instructors and years of personal and professional experience, Lighthouse ensures that individuals of all backgrounds have the tools they need to lead productive, independent lives while pursuing their dreams and goals without limitations.
Lighthouse Central Florida is a nationally accredited agency with nationally certified staff in the area of vision rehabilitation. Since 1976, and especially over the past ten years, Lighthouse Central Florida has grown exponentially with several statewide accomplishments. Lighthouse Central Florida, and its membership in the coalition, FAASB (Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind) inspired the creation of the Florida Legislative Vision Caucus – the largest caucus in the state’s history with 75 members. This coalition also established the annual Florida Vision Summit held at our State Capital. Among its other successes, Lighthouse Central Florida secured a specialty license plate available to all Florida residents for the purpose of raising awareness to the issues faced by the blind and visually impaired community. The license tag, “A State of Vision” is can be ordered through http://www.myfloridaspecialtyplate.com/gallery.html.Goals:
Our main goal is to provide rehabilitation services to at least 800 sight impaired persons per year through our services and social enterprise nonprofit extension divisions. With this in mind, we aim to:
• Establish comprehensive employment services for sight impaired persons
• Establish at least 3 new collaborative partnerships with community agencies that have the potential to significantly increase referrals and share resources.
• Increase the number of Lighthouse investors to 1,000
• Increase the number of members of our Lighthouse Keepers Society to at least 100. *Lighthouse Keepers Society members are those investors who provide at least $1,000 and name Lighthouse in their wills or as beneficiaries in a life insurance policy
To meet our goals and objectives, Lighthouse Central Florida feels that the following are critical needs in meeting our responsibilities to the blind and visually impaired community and is interested in meeting with individuals, community businesses or agencies who can help supply these needs within a partnership agreement:
• Flexible and appropriate service facilities.
• Affordable and accessible transportation options for sight-impaired clients, staff and volunteers.
• State-of-the-art technology for clients, volunteers and staff, including equipment, software and licenses, and teleconferencing capability.
• Media Sponsorship to provide mass public information campaign.
• Passionate board members willing to give time, talent and treasure and who represent all racial/ethnic backgrounds and geographical areas we serve.
In 1976, Valencia Community College inaugurated courses for recently blinded adults and parent education to families of children with severe sight impairment. From these early efforts emerged an organization known as CITE: The Center for Independence, Technology and Education. In 1981, Valencia and a group of dedicated volunteers secured a building in the College Park section of Orlando to relocate operations. The new location made it possible to offer a wider variety of services to both adults and children. In 1984 CITE became a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing vision rehabilitation services to Central Floridians living in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties. Due to the scarcity of assistive technology centers, CITE served consumers from throughout the state, nation and foreign visitors.
In October 1993, The Florida Division of Blind Services asked CITE to assume the administration and operations of the LITE program formerly managed by Lake-Sumter Community College. CITE agreed and established an outreach center in Leesburg to meet the needs of residents in Lake, Sumter, and south Marion counties with vision impairments. That outreach center was closed in April 2005. At the present time the focus of services within that geographic area is centered in the micropolitan area known as The Villages.
December 2001 marked the national accreditation of CITE by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind & Visually Handicapped (NAC). In 2004, the legal name of CITE was changed to Lighthouse Central Florida, Inc. to more accurately describe the mission and to convey to the community, clients and funding partners the scope of services provided by this organization.
Lighthouse Central Florida continues to grow in the number of services offered, the number of clients served, and community outreach through participation in public education forums. Lighthouse provides leadership in the field of vision rehabilitation at the local, state and national level. Staff members are often invited to present at national professional conferences as our services, curriculum, and management employ best practices and innovations recognized within the vision rehabilitation profession.
Several years ago I was admitted to a local hospital for what was intended to be minor abdominal surgery. Unfortunately, complications occurred resulting in my being in the hospital for nearly one year with one consequence being total loss of vision. One of the first remembered conscious moments was a Lighthouse representative at my bedside offering help, counseling and rehabilitation for this loss.
Eventually, with the help of Lighthouse and its occupational rehabilitation programs, I was able to return to work and recommence my profession of practicing law. Without the Lighthouse assistance and encouragement rehabilitation to productive status and an otherwise full life would not have been possible.
Central Florida has both a growing and aging population. Unfortunately, one of the consequences of this demographic reality is and will be an increasing visually impaired population. In the next decade we believe the visually impaired population will triple. While the short term challenge relates to current national and local economic circumstances, the long term challenge must be preparation for the next decade. At Lighthouse we must become increasingly professional, continue our excellent management efficiencies while at the same time expanding our donor base and public awareness programs.
Especially important is and will be our children's programs. A visually impaired child almost never achieves independence and sustainability unless at the earliest ages that child receives training from both an education and life survival perspective. In today's world if you start substantially behind the average the likelihood of recovery and success is very low. Lighthouse can and does make a difference with these children.
At the moment, all of us are keenly aware of the competing demands for financial resources. At Lighthouse we endeavor to make sure the maximum percentage of donor dollars ultimately results in services to the visually impaired population.
Evolution of Lighthouse
Lighthouse was an outgrowth of a national initiative to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities in the educational arena. Valencia Community College responded to the challenge by offering open campus classes to newly blind adults as well as education and support to families. The individuals enrolled in these programs were enthusiastic and grateful. From this gratitude a grassroots organization pursued expansion of the opportunities they had experienced and Lighthouse came into existence as a private nonprofit organization in 1984.
The programs of Lighthouse have been identified as state-of-the-art by the Florida Division of Blind Services. Our Early Intervention and Transition Services are the models on which others in the state (and beyond) are measured. Lighthouse is committed to excellence. Every reasonable effort is made to see that all clients receive first rate service. The mission of Lighthouse permeates this organization from the appearance of the facility, the attitudes of the staff and volunteers, and the commitment of the Board.
Lighthouse Central Florida (LCF) remains the only provider of no-cost vision-rehabilitation services in Central Florida that can help this population achieve their goals. LCF partners with local organizations to identify and contract services to our client populations. We are the designated vendor for the State of Florida’s Division of Blind Services (DBS) for this region and work closely with the local District office to anticipate and meet client needs. Other partners include the Seminole County School System, Orange County Public Schools, Florida Hospital, Arnold Palmer Children's Hospital, and United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida, among others. Local ophthalmologists and other vision-care specialists also partner with Lighthouse as primary sources of referral to Lighthouse programs.
Lighthouse is a member of the Lighthouse National Vision Rehabilitation Networks, a long-time member of the Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB), and a charter member of the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA). In December 2011, Lighthouse was awarded 5-year accreditation by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC).
Our rehabilitation professionals are either certification eligible or maintain certification with the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation and Educational Professionals (ACVREP), an independent and autonomous legal certification body governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The ACVERP strives to conduct its certification programs according to standards established by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). It is committed to quality certification programs that meet rigorous recognized standards. Programs are designed to offer professionals the means to demonstrate knowledge, skills, and professionalism.
EXECUTIVE: CEO/President Lee Nasehi, MSW is responsible for the supervision, oversight, reporting and negotiation of contracts with the State of Florida’s Department of Education Division of Blind Services, local governments and private funders. Mrs. Nasehi brings 25 years of experience in social services management, substance abuse and mental health service programming, vision rehabilitation program design and evaluation, and non-profit board governance and administration.
-MIDDLE MANAGEMENT POSITIONS (3): Director of Finance and Administration, Director of Program Services, Adult Rehabilitation Services Manager, Employment Services Manager, Children’ Services Manager. Middle management provides daily management of materials allocations, ordering and other resource management.
--SUPPORT STAFF: Receptionists (2), Bookkeeper (1), Maintenance (1), Administrative Services (4), and Contracts and Office Administrator (1). Support staff provides for the communication within the organization (internal and external), daily distribution of supplies, safety needs and facilities.
--DIRECT SERVICE POSITIONS Independent Living Skills/Adult Rehabilitation Instructors (3), O & M Specialists (1), Assistive Technology Teachers (2), Youth Services Specialists (5),Case Management/Support Services staff (4), and Braille Teacher (1). Direct services staff comprises the heart of services delivery from intake, assessment, individual and group instruction from the main campus, individual homes and off site locations.
--GROUP FACILITATION AND CLASSROOM VOLUNTEERS (13). Volunteers supplement services of adult direct-services staff by working one-on-one with clients providing emotional support and classroom preparation.
--EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND VISION REHABILITATION STAFF: consists of the Children’s Services Manager, Susan Mayton; Early Intervention Mentors (4) with extensive experience and training specifically related to visual impairments and child development. Each has at a minimum a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, Child Development, Early Childhood Special Education or related field. All must complete specialized certifications (INSITE, VIISA 0 - 3 and VIISA 3 - 5) that teach them how to work specifically with children and babies through age 5 who are blind or visually impaired.
Lighthouse is located in the College Park area of downtown Orlando at 215 East New Hampshire Street. A subsidiary company, Lighthouse Works, is located at 2500 Kunze Avenue in the “SODO” district just south of downtown Orlando.
Program services will be provided (in part) at the East New Hampshire Street facility. The building houses program activities and staffing for the Children’s Services, Transition, Independent Living Skills, and Assistive Technology classes. Program administrative staff and the Sustainability department are also located at this location. Space is provided for the Lighthouse Alumni Committee to meet twice a week. There are two training kitchens, a computer lab, meeting space, and classrooms to accommodate the needs of each program.
Executive, finance, facilities, and job-skills training staff are located at the 2500 Kunze Avenue location. This building is home to Lighthouse Works’ 4Sight360 call center and supply chain warehouse.
Both buildings are fully accessible and comply with ADA standards, and storage of client records and other confidential materials are stored securely and in compliance with HIPPA regulations.
Access technology training enables individuals who are blind or visually impaired to use computer technology in the home, school, or workplace. This technology helps the user navigate the computer and internet, access and read email, and utilize mobile applications to aid in everyday tasks such as sorting mail, reading books, and shopping.
Training in Braille and white cane mobility are also provided.
The Children’s Services program utilizes items that are specifically designed for the development and training of children who are blind or visually impaired. These items include tactile books, light boards, talking braillers, toys with flashing lights, and screen magnifiers.
I. EARLY INTERVENTION
Supportive Service Goal 1:
Help each individual child learn to function within their daily life routines in as independent a manner as possible, develop a sense of confidence, competence, and self esteem, reducing the need for/cost of special education services to transition the child to school-aged services:
1a) Provide individual and small group vision-based early intervention, assessment of functional vision and general development, and supportive technology assessments.
1b) Participate in annual assessment and Individualized Plans of Service meetings; and where appropriate, in IFSP or IEP meetings to coordinate client progress.
Outcome 1: At least 75% of children served will demonstrate an increase in developmental skill acquisition that enhances their level of independent function and self confidence. Transition to school-aged services at age 5 or 6 will reflect this increased funtional level.
Supportive Services Goal 2:
Help parents and caregivers to work positively through feelings of grief, inadequacy, and isolation, increasing their ability to function as their child's best lifelong teachers and advocates:
2a) Provide family education through group and individual sessions, and community-based activities.
2b) Conduct twice monthly child and family small-group sessions at the center, at home, or at community collaborating agencies.
Outcome 2:At least 90% of parents and/or caregivers will improve their ability to provide safe and nurturing environments which promote their visually impaired child's optimal life quality, will report/demonstrate improved confidence in their ability to parent the child with visual impairment, and will learn advocacy skills supporting their ability to secure appropriate school and community services.
MEASUREMENT: Once weekly data collection/service record entry of individual staff to parent service. This incorporates professional observation by the assigned mentor, as well as informal parent report. A formal parent survey tool is also used at program entry, annually in August, and at program exit.
1) Job Skills Training
OUTCOME: Increase ability to obtain family-sustaining employment
a) % of participants improving their employability skills
Students will complete a Transition Comprehensive Functional Assessment (TCFA) that utilizes a 5-point gradient scale to measure the use and application of essential compensatory skills. These skills are applied to the performance of job exploration, job seeking, and work tasks. The TCFA will provide a baseline performance score and measure functional progress throughout the year.
2) Benefits Assessment/Accessibility
Increase self-sufficiency through access to income supports
a) % of eligible participants accessing public and/or employer benefits
Students and parent/guardian will complete a benefits check list at intake and will be asked for an update each semester. The checklist will include (but will not be limited to) information regarding SSDI, SNAP, and transportation stipends.
3) Financial Education and Training
Increase ability to understand and utilize components of financial education
a) % of participants increasing their financial literacy
b) % of participants maintaining their budget
MEASURMENTS: Students will complete a Transition Comprehensive Functional Assessment (TCFA) that utilizes a 5-point gradient scale to measure the use and application of essential compensatory skills.
These skills will be applied to the performance of banking tasks, budgeting, and money handling. The TCFA will provide a baseline performance score and measure functional progress.
Upon start of the budgeting unit, students will create an accessible budget, which they will utilize along with an expense register to track progress. Progress made toward budget management will be tracked in the student's service record, which is maintained in a database which will generate a report on each student's progress. For year one of this program, this report will be used to create a baseline result of outcomes.
4) Savings and Assets
Increase savings and/or assets
a) % of participants who open an account with a bank or credit union
b) % of participants who increase savings
Students will be asked to provide documentation of a new account, which will be noted in their service records. A report will be generated each semester to document savings increases, creating an initial baseline.
Students will be asked to provide receipt of deposits, which will be maintained in their service records. A report will be generated each semester to document savings increases, creating an initial baseline.
III. OLDER BLIND:
To demonstrate and apply compensatory skills to: access printed materials, communicate needs, maintain health and well-being (appointments), to integrate and utilize community services, manage personal care, finances; manage home maintenance, food preparation, safety and well-being; navigate safely in unfamiliar indoor environments.
Demonstrate and apply compensatory skills to perform self-care, and reduce need for community funded supports. Demonstrate compensatory skills to use alternative transportation to receive medical care, and perform daily-living tasks such as shopping and socializing.
These goals are met by creating Comprehensive Functional Assessments (CFA) for each client and working closely with them (either on-sit or at their location) to meet the goals they set with their case manager or mentor. Clients are evaluated upon entry into the program and re-evaluated at six- and twelve-month intervals.
-- Comprehensive Functional Assessments to collect and evaluate data and client-functionality progress (upon enrollment and the six- and twelve-month marks) --Case notes documenting progress of specialists and a health care team (monthly) --Case management report of parent observation (monthly) --Client surveys (quarterly) --Client and parent interviews and self-reports (quarterly) --Job readiness skills assessment including typing, note taking, interviewing, and technology use (incremental)
Many parents feel that a diagnosis of blindness or vision impairment for their child is a punch to the stomach. Most are left feeling hopeless and uninspired in the thoughts of their child’s future and milestones from infancy to adulthood. Many questions arise including, “How do we deal with this?” “How will our child grow, learn, engage with the world?” Lighthouse Central Florida’s Early Intervention program is a true beacon of light within the darkness a parent may feel during these difficult times.
Early Intervention services are provided to children from birth to age six (6). Services are provided to the child and family in the child’s home, day care, school, neighborhood or center-based setting. Learning is structured to maximize the visual and developmental progress of each child.
Early Intervention services are critical in preventing unnecessary developmental delays due to vision impairment. Children and families served in the Early Intervention program are empowered to participate in and benefit from activities in the home, community and school setting. Family participation in the development and delivery of the service plan is an essential component of the Early Intervention program.
Grace came to Lighthouse Central around the age of two just as she was starting to truly explore the world around her. She WOWED us from the beginning. Despite her multiple disabilities, including severe vision loss, Grace's enduring spirit let nothing get in her way. She started Early Intervention therapy both in her home and at the Lighthouse and has not looked back since. She has surpassed all benchmarks expected of her through therapy and will be starting kindergarten in a regular school with her friends and peers. Grace is a perfect example of what kids can do with a loving family and a trusted place like the Lighthouse to help show her the way.
See Grace’s story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dF__oQLOrEA
See Early Intervention video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bd3QPxDChvw
Transition services are provided to students age 14 through 22 that are currently being served by the school system under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Lighthouse Central Florida employs an expanded core curriculum, which compliments the IEP, but also extends into vocational training and social experiences for the student.
The Transition program provides students with skills and experience to facilitate successful transition from high school to post-secondary activities, such as college, vocational school and employment. Through summer work programs to job coaching and Access Technology training, transition services promote personal and professional advancement and help teens compete with their sighted peers and achieve future self-sufficiency.
Everyday skills to promote independence are also addressed including: cooking, future planning, learning strategies, use of remaining vision, orientation and mobility, problem solving, social skills, sports/leisure and work exploration. The transitions program engages students to go beyond their wildest expectations, which builds an “I can do anything” mindset needed given the obstacles they face. Activities such as skydiving, white-water rafting and rock-climbing are just a few of the activities our students experience further teaching them that no obstacle is too great to overcome.
Group sessions occur twice per month and individualized instruction is available to students throughout the week. Transition services provide participants with the opportunity to develop positive self-esteem, independence and employ-ability skills.
For Ramon, Lighthouse Central Florida was much more than a chance to learn how to live with vision loss – it was a second chance at life. Ramon’s difficulties in high school led to expulsion and a future that was fading along with his vision. Public schools were very difficult for Ramon in part because they were not equipped to teach persons with vision loss. Lighthouse not only showed Ramon all that he could do, but ultimately gave him a place to do it – Ramon works in the Transitions service program and mentors teens and young adults who are visually impaired.
Assessment and Case Management Services: Development of an
individual service plan to meet the ongoing needs of persons receiving
Yvonne & ILS – Yvonne lost her vision to glaucoma several years ago leaving her wondering what she was going to do and how she was going to function. The loss of sight affected Yvonne greatly, and at times she felt there wasn't much left for her to do with her life. After learning about Lighthouse Central Florida, she decided to enroll in the Independent Living Skills (ILS) class and she fell in love with it! Upon completing the course, Yvonne decided this was the place for her and she became a volunteer helping others understand that loss of sight does not mean loss of vision. Yvonne teaches us that you have see with your heart and your mind, something that she learned at the Lighthouse. See Yvonne’s story here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQdylJi3MQ4
Watch Lighthouse Central Florida’s Orientation and Mobility video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr8j7wQj0dU
Adrianna lost her vision two years ago to Diabetic Retinopathy, but did not let her blindness get in the way of her vision. For the future, Adrianna dreams of going to college, opening her own business and becoming completely independent despite her vision loss. She has been attending Access Technology classes at Lighthouse Central Florida to re-learn how to use a computer, communicate electronically through iDevice training and stay up-to-date with technology to remain equal to her sighted peers. No matter what the person's age, Lighthouse Access Technology training enables individuals who are blind or visually impaired to use computer technology in the home, school and workplace. Watch Lighthouse Central Florida’s Access Technology video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FYmoNk2ZbY
Watch Lighthouse Central Florida’s Braille Training video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc_qi1l_og4
Watch Lighthouse Central Florida’s Independent Living Skills video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJwjJ5697rg
and training to prepare for, access, and maintain competitive employment.
Services include job-readiness training, vocational assessments, job coaching,
Our mission statement is: Empowerment Through Employment. Lighthouse Works is a social enterprise non-profit, which means our business exists to forward and fund our mission of living, learning and earning with vision loss. Through our wide range of businesses, we are able to provide job training, employment and career opportunities for the advancement of people who are blind and visually impaired.
Founded in 2011, Lighthouse Works mission is empowerment through employment. Our goal is to be the number one provider of call center sourcing solution and fulfillment services for both for-profit companies and publicly funded agencies. Our world-class call center services currently provide support to companies in the healthcare, hospitality & travel and apparel merchandising industries, while our sourcing solutions and fulfillment division operates more than 2 million dollars in government-funded contracts. Revenues made from Lighthouse Works are funneled back into Lighthouse Central Florida’s program services division that serves all ages of people living with vision loss.
Lighthouse Works is one of 91 non-profit associated agencies throughout the country associated with the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) - the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind. Additionally, Lighthouse Works operates in partnership with the AbilityOne Program to secure quality product services to the federal government at fair market prices.
Learn more about Lighthouse Works! – www.LighthouseWorks.org
Cleo’s loss of vision took away many things in her life…most notably, at that time in her life, it took away a promising career in the United States Armed Forces. Cleo, like many people who lose their vision, had to emerge from broken dreams to recreate a new life, and find new purposes. After many struggling years, Cleo built a new life that she is happy with. Living near her daughter and grandchildren, Cleo found the happiness she thought was lost with her vision. She is part of the Lighthouse Works! Team and enjoys her life, her friends and her family.
Sharon is a beacon of light all by herself. Losing her vision as a child from an accident, Sharon learned how to be self sufficient and self reliant despite her blindness and is part of the Lighthouse Works! Call Center team. Originally from Jamaica, Sharon now lives in Central Florida with her three beautiful children and is a source of inspiration not only to her family, but also to her Lighthouse colleagues.
LC was an NFL hopeful and enjoyed the passion and strategy of the gridiron. Losing his vision took away his sight and his dreams of playing professional football. Despite his blindness, LC’s abominable spirit of being a champion shined through his struggles and he found a new purpose with his life – his family. Though he still dreams of the glory days, LC is happy and surrounded by people who care about him – this includes his colleagues at the Lighthouse Works! Call Center.
Children in the program will continue to develop their vision-rehabilitation, adding technology usage, increased socialization, and independent-living skills to their training. The curriculum for instruction will be the Expanded Core Curriculum for Children with Vision Impairment, an age-appropriate, culturally competent functional academic enhancement that focuses on teaching the skills determined necessary for a visually impaired child to be able to succeed in public school and become more independent within daily life, and maintain pace with their sighted peers.
Each program of Lighthouse Central Florida strives to meet the individualized needs of clients with a wide variety of sight impairments, educational backgrounds, interests and experiences coupled with a wide range of ages. Program directors, supervisors and staff continually monitor the client population to not only meet individual needs but to gauge changes in the populations served and their current needs. Ten years ago services were very limited in scope and for the most part templated to the needs of the average client. This is no longer the case. The curriculum for every service is continuously reviewed for pertinence to the client’s needs and revised to assimilate the latest advances in vision rehabilitation practices and protocols, new adaptive aid products and state-of-the-art software applications specific to low vision and blindness. The curriculum in many cases is composed of components in which the client exercises choice as to the facets they will attend.
Lee Nasehi grew up in Central Florida, graduating from Bishop Moore High School in Orlando in 1975. She attended Florida State University in Tallahassee and obtained her undergraduate degree in psychology and graduate degree in Social Work, focusing on administration and program evaluation. She has her certificate in Non-Profit Management from the Philanthropy and Non-Profit Leadership Center of Rollins College.
As the parents of a child with multiple disabilities, Lee and her husband received early-intervention services at CITE (now Lighthouse), and went on to become volunteers. They actively advocated for parents of children with special needs.
Lee worked for many years in the areas of substance abuse and mental health with the State of Florida’s Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services in Orlando and early intervention with Children’s Home Society in Tallahassee. When she and her family returned to Central Florida in 1998, Lee began working with Lighthouse in development and in 2000 became its Executive Director. Since then, Lee has significantly strengthened the infrastructure of the agency and quality of the comprehensive menu of rehabilitation services, earning a reputation as the most effective Lighthouse in Florida. As President and CEO, Lee has begun writing the next chapter of the agency’s history, creating a full spectrum of employment services for Central Floridians and pursuing business enterprises to create employment opportunities for sight-impaired persons and supplemental revenue for the agency. She is a past member of the Governor’s Advisory Council for the Blind, and past board member of the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Impaired, a current member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Vision Serve Alliance. She has served on the CEO Advisory Council for Heart of Florida United Way.
The challenges and opportunities before Lighthouse are immense. The State of Florida has a disproportionate number of individuals affected with vision loss due to the ever-increasing life expectancy of our senior citizens. As a direct result of this demographic, there are unusually large numbers of persons with significant and/or severe vision loss residing in Central Florida in need of vision rehabilitation. The challenge of recruiting qualified staff and having the financial resources to provide the quantity and quality of services is daunting. Vision rehabilitation is a relatively new profession and there are very few schools, particularly in the Southeastern United States that prepare individuals for this field. Funding from traditional sources is extremely limited and continues to shrink at a time when the demand for services is rapidly increasing.
Opportunities open to Lighthouse are very exciting. Advances in technology open the possibility of serving a portion of our clients in their homes for some of the services they need. Improvements in public transportation would resolve many of the issues in accessing our services for those with vision loss. For years, transportation has been an impediment in getting individuals to the facility or outreach facilities where services are delivered. New initiatives for increasing the employment opportunities for persons with vision loss are in the works. The goal is to have “career opportunities” in which there is the reasonable expectation that one can derive satisfaction from one’s job and receive a “living wage.” This will be a major focus for Lighthouse in the next few years. It is our philosophy that rehabilitation is incomplete if the person is desirous of employment and they are impeded by lack of opportunity or bias against persons with disabilities. The opportunity to change this in tangible ways is one of the greatest opportunities and challenges facing Lighthouse.
Lighthouse is working in conjunction with state and national vision rehabilitation centers to meet and dialog with colleges and universities to expand or begin programs for the education of vision rehabilitation professionals. Currently Lighthouse is in dialogue with Florida State University to “keep” their current program and with University of Central Florida to explore the possibility of a program in conjunction with their Health Services programs.
Efforts are underway to foster a deeper involvement with those working in the field of diabetes to being services to sites where other allied treatment programs already exist. One of the major causes of vision loss is diabetes. Other avenues under consideration are partnerships with the new UCF Medical School and Burnham Institute to more fully respond to the ballooning population with vision loss.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
Lighthouse Central Florida understands that dependency on grants and contracts is not a predictable or reliable model of sustainment. Even the agency’s most steady funder, Florida’s Division of Blind Services, continually faces budget cuts that affect the amount of funding made available to Lighthouse services each year. Lighthouse hosts a number of fundraisers throughout the year that contribute greatly to the operational budget. Several of these have become highly-anticipated signature events. However, the organization is also looking ahead to long-term, scalable solutions to the issue of sustainability. To do this Lighthouse has evaluated its fundraising and donor-development strategies and has made changes to staffing, focus, and technological capacity to increase donor-generated revenue. Additionally, the organization is looking at other sources of income including a social enterprise model and alternative revenue sources.
Central Florida Foundation 800 N Magnolia AvenueSuite 1200 Orlando, FL 32803 p. 407.872.3050 f. 407.425.2990