A Guest’s Perspective: 2015 Redefining Vision Luncheon

Submitted by Billie Klan

Each year I think that the events by The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. are pretty special — that they are continually improving. This year’s Redefining Vision Luncheon was my favorite!

Lighthouse employees Peggy Martinez (left) and Andrew Stauffer (right) provided some musical entertainment for guests at the Redefining Vision Luncheon.

Lighthouse employees Peggy Martinez (left) and Andrew Stauffer (right) provided some musical entertainment for guests at the Redefining Vision Luncheon.

While guests mingled, Lighthouse employees Peggy Martinez and Andrew Stauffer set a light tone for the opening of the Luncheon by providing musical entertainment. Other Lighthouse employees, David Jefferson and Robert Studebaker, gave very clear and thorough explanations of some of the hundreds of parts and products made at the Lighthouse. Our guests were surprised at how compact the entrenching tool became as shown by Pat Cashman — a delightful and the perfect emcee.

BSC Sales Coordinator David Jefferson (left) and Contact Center Representative Robert Studebaker (inside left) tell guests about the products we make at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

BSC Sales Coordinator David Jefferson (left) and Contact Center Representative Robert Studebaker (inside left) tell guests about the products we make at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.

Seattle Actor and Comedian Pat Cashman emceed the event

Seattle Actor and Comedian Pat Cashman emceed the event

The true STARS were Shawn, Michelle, and Nathan.  We know there had to have been lots of preparation and work to make such a wonderful video.  It really shows the people behind the jobs at the Lighthouse.

Development and Public Relations Director Shawn Dobbs addresses the crowd as Production Worker Michelle Denzer and CNC Machinist Nathan Greenwood stand on stage

Development and Public Relations Director Shawn Dobbs addresses the crowd as Production Worker Michelle Denzer and CNC Machinist Nathan Greenwood stand on stage

We all come to this event knowing that we’ll have a lovely meal, meet other people excited and interested in the Lighthouse, and leave inspired.  This luncheon achieved all that and more. Congratulations!

Seattle Lighthouse’s Summer Social

Lighthouse Employee of the Year Salvador Huizar speaks to the crowd at Redefining Vision Summer Evening Out

Lighthouse Employee of the Year Salvador Huizar speaks to the crowd at Redefining Vision Summer Evening Out

In true Seattle style, the nearly 100 event attendees and volunteers appreciated the warm afternoon at our August 14th Redefining Vision Summer Evening Out.

Guests enjoyed the delicious hors d’oeuvres, beer from Georgetown Brewing Company, and wine from Davenport Cellars while mingling in Ethel L. Dupar’s Fragrant Garden. The smooth jazz provided by Lighthouse employee and DJ, Larry Irvin, offered a great background soundtrack for chatting with old friends and meeting new ones.

Guests also had plenty of opportunities to learn about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s mission and training programs by taking a tour of our Machine Shop or participating in a hands-on technology, Braille Literacy Program, or Orientation and Mobility Program demonstration.

A big thank you to our employee speaker Salvador Huizar for sharing his story of upward mobility and leadership training as one of our 2013 Employees of the Year. As always, we were delighted to hear from President and CEO Kirk Adams as he thanked our community for its continued support and shared a little about the Lighthouse’s recent accomplishments.

Thank you also to our premier event sponsor, Amber Janitorial Inc., and Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos for attending this lovely outdoor event.

Our small silent auction raised over $1,800 and included some incredible items such as Dinner and Jazz with Kirk and Ros Adams, Chihuly Gardens and Glass Arts and Excursion Package, tickets to Bumbershoot 2014, and more!

Will this be an annual event? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please comment on this post or contact our Events and Annual Fund Coordinator Andrea Travis at atravis@seattlelh.org  to share your feedback and ideas for summer 2015!

Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden Blooms with Support for the Lighthouse

King County Master Gardener Helen Weber leading a guided tour at Redefining Vision In Bloom

King County Master Gardener Helen Weber leading a guided tour at Redefining Vision In Bloom

Submitted by Julie Brannon, ECS Support Services Manager  & Braille Instructor

It was a great pleasure to spend time with our guests at the Redefining Vision In Bloom event on Saturday, August 17th.  We had about 20 guests join us that beautiful morning for a fun and educational presentation.  It’s always an honor for me to get to talk to people about the benefits of braille, which I did that morning with the added delight of connecting it to experiencing the Ethel L. Dupar Fragrant Garden.  Guests also had the opportunity to hear details about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s history from our President and CEO Kirk Adams.  And as always, our guests were fascinated by the personal tour by King County Master Gardener Helen Weber. The Redefining Vision In Bloom events have raised nearly $4,000 in support of our mission.  If you haven’t had the chance to have hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a personal garden tour then you need to join our final event of the season on September 14th, 11:00am to 1:00pm.  Sign up on our RSVP page.

Meet Brett Lewis: Judo Gold Medalist and Sensei

Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis

Keynote Speaker Brett Lewis

Developed in Japan in 1882, Judo is a mutually beneficial sport for everyone involved, including blind and visually impaired athletes.

Meaning “the gentle way” Judo require a lot of self-discipline, structure, and strategy.

Brett Lewis, the keynote speaker for the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation’s 2013 Redefining Vision Luncheon on March 27, knows first-hand the challenges and rewards of this competitive martial art.

Originally born in Del Rio, TX, Brett moved to Spokane when he was just five years old.  At age six, he lost his sight due to a post-surgical infection.  Always an active child, he never let his lack of vision prevent him from being physically active, taking up Judo, running, and wrestling.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Lewis said in an interview for the Spokane Judo Club, where he serves as Head Sensei.  “The hardest lesson to learn was to always keep trying hard.  When you think you don’t have to anymore, you start slacking and you get lazy.  Then someone comes along who will stomp you into the ground and you’ll realize you’ve gotten lazy.”

This dedication paid off for Lewis when in 1987, he became the first American Judo competitor to win the Gold Medal in both his weight division and the open division at the World Championships for the Blind.  He also earned the Silver Medal in the subsequent 1992 Paralympics in Barcelona, Spain.

Lewis attended Stanford University, earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in math and engineering.  Prior to returning to Spokane in 2001, Brett worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency, the US Mission at NATO, the RAND Corporation.  He currently telecommutes to his job as a software engineer for Freedom Scientific.  Brett is also the proud father of two boys, Lucas and Miles.

Besides improved physical fitness, Judo can be attributed to increased confidence, defined character, and mutual respect.  Judo is based on two major principles, maximum efficient use of energy and mutual prosperity for self and others.

The goal is to win decisively.  To be successful, players must rely on their perception of the strength and behavior of the opponent and choose the appropriate reaction or defense technique.

“It is all about leverage and balance,” said Lewis.

But of course, no one wins every match and one must also learn humility.  “It’s just you out there on the mat, there’s no team to blame it on if things go bad, and some people don’t stick with it when they lose,” said Lewis. “But if you can leave
the match knowing you’ve done the very best you could, well, then there’s
really nothing wrong with losing.”

Meet our Emcee: Cyrus Habib

Cyrus Habib, Keynote speaker for our Holiday Breakfast in December 2011, will be our emcee for the 2012 Redefining Vision Luncheon. We are excited about his continued involvement with the Seattle Lighthouse for the Blind Foundation.

Cyrus makes his living as an attorney at Perkins Coie in Bellevue, WA.  Who he is and what he has accomplished will take a bit more space to explore.  Blind since the age of 9 due to a childhood cancer, retinoblastoma, Cyrus never let fear of the unknown hold him back. In an interview on the January, 13 2012 edition of KUOW Weekday (See complete interview HERE), Cyrus talks about how his parent’s attitude helped him shape his view on life:

“I was in third grade, and you know as kids do at recess time, all my peers would go and play on the jungle gym and monkey bars. And the recess monitors, knowing that I had just lost my vision and probably, I suspect, also knowing that my mother is a litigator, decided that it was too dangerous for me to be playing up on the monkey bars. So, they kept me by the side of the school with them: pretty segregated. So, this was hugely dispiriting. So, I went to my parents and I told them about how unhappy I was with the current state of affairs. My mom went to the school, she took me with her, and she said: I’m going to take my son to the playground on the weekends, I’m going to teach him how to get around the jungle gym, and he’s going to learn it as well as any other kid knows it. And, she said: I’ll sign any liability waiver you want, but he’s going to get on that jungle gym, and it may happen that he might slip and fall and break his arm, that’s a fear that any mother has. But, I can fix a broken arm I can never fix a broken spirit. My parents decided, as they told me years later that they were not going to let their fear become my fear. That really set the tone for me for life. This disability that I have at a young age is not going to affect my dreams or my pursuit of those dreams.”

Cyrus grew up in Bellevue, attending the Bellevue International School, which ranked 12th in the nation on Newsweek Magazine‘s list of the best high schools for 2007.  However, even the best institution can have weaknesses, and Cyrus amended his education through classes at Bellevue College:

“I am passionate about Bellevue College because years ago my high school’s inability to accommodate math and science classes had led me to take those portions of my high school curriculum there. Their creative approach towards teaching me topics that are seemingly entirely visual, instilled in me an enduring respect for the value of such institutions.”

In his first foray into higher education Cyrus studied Literature at Columbia University in New York, then at University of Oxford in the UK. In addition to being a Rhodes Scholar, Cyrus is also a Truman Scholar and a Soros Fellow. Upon graduating with a Masters in Literature, though, he switched his focus to attend Yale Law School. In an interview with friend and fellow Rhodes Scholar, Chesa Boudin (See complete article HERE) Cyrus explains his choice:

“I reached a point where I felt as though I was speaking into an echo chamber…  I decided that the issues I was addressing on a theoretical level, namely the relationship between visual experience and the formation of power dynamics, was in fact a phenomenon that could use my involvement outside the ivory tower. I realized that I would start with issues facing other blind individuals — not necessarily the most obvious ones — and see where that took me.”

While in law school, Cyrus was editor of the Yale Law Journal.  And, it was at Yale where he first became interested in the role currency plays in accessibility.

“As a first year law student at Yale, I learned of a recent court ruling in Washington D.C. District Court that U.S. currency is inaccessible to the blind because bills are only distinguishable visually. I was intrigued, and soon enough found myself wrapped up in that cause. I co-authored, along with another Rhodes Scholar and Yale classmate, Jonathan Finer, an amicus brief at the appellate level, authored an op-ed in the Washington Post and other forums, and eventually testified before Congress on how best to adapt U.S. currency to become accessible to America’s blind and low-vision population as well.”

Cyrus is a Human Services Commissioner for the City of Bellevue, and sits on the board of directors of the Bellevue College Foundation and the Bellevue Downtown Association. In 2009 he was appointed by King County Executive Dow Constantine to serve as a King County Civil Rights Commissioner. A former Trustee of the Washington Young Lawyers Division, he has served on a number of Bar committees and task forces. He is also active in the Bellevue Rotary Club. Cyrus is currently running for State Representative for the 48th District. In an article for the Washington Post in 2007 titled “Show us the Money”, Cyrus makes a call to action that the Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. hopes to reflect:

“When it comes to accommodating disabilities such as blindness, let us continue to lead the world in practice as well as in principle. More important still, let us tell the world that we, too, believe that blindness should not be an obstacle to financial independence. In doing so, let us also take a significant step toward ameliorating the living conditions of blind Americans, now and for years to come.”