TRF Home Page
Royal – Home Page

Club 24 Members Experience “Dining in the Dark” at the Lighthouse

Club 24 members try to eat dinner blindfolded to experience what visually handicapped people have to endure everyday of their lives.

Club 24 members try to eat dinner blindfolded to experience what visually handicapped people have to endure everyday of their lives.

By Pramod Kulkarni

HOUSTON: Those of us with full use of our limbs and organs often take these blessings for granted. Club 24 members had the unique opportunity to experience the disability that visually handicapped individuals have to endure on a permanent basis.

Club 24 hosted a “Dining in the Dark” experience at The Lighthouse facility on Friday, September 7. This experience involves blindfolding the participants while they try to eat their dinner with only touch and feel.

Club 24 has had an extended relationship of over 20 years with The Lighthouse. Club 24 leaders such as Pradeep Gupta, Asha Dhume and Elsie Rao have served on The Lighthouse board of directors. The Lighthouse has also provided internships for YLDP students to work closely with the visually handicapped.

Club 24 Event Chair Elsie Rao is a Special Ed educator, who has extensive experience in teaching the visually handicapped in the local school districts as well as at the Lighthouse. Event Co-chair Mary Grace and Mike Landrum assisted Elsie in staging the Sept. 7 event with the Lighthouse staff. Venu Rao was responsible for the elegantly designed event program.

At specially arranged activity tables, Club 24 members and their guests had the opportunity to examine a Braile typewriter and several Children’s and adult books in Braile, including a Playboy magazine!

“This event is very meaningful to myself and Club 24,” explained Club 24 President Manisha Gandhi. Thanking the Lighthouse for helping the visually handicapped achieve independence, Manisha recited before the audience Hellen Keller’s quote, “I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.”

Club 24 Event Chair Elsie Rao (left) with President Manisha Gandhi, Keynote Speaker Sandhya Rao, Event Co-chair Mary Grace Landrum and Venu Rao.

Club 24 Event Chair Elsie Rao (left) with President Manisha Gandhi, Keynote Speaker Sandhya Rao, Event Co-chair Mary Grace Landrum and Venu Rao.

Gibson DeTerroil, President of the Lighthouse for the past 40 years, explained the organization’s history and the extensive range of services the Lighthouse provides for the visually handicapped.

Established in 1939, The Lighthouse of Houston is a private, nonprofit education and service center dedicated to assisting blind and visually impaired people to live independently. Each year, The Lighthouse serves approximately 7,000 people and is a member of the United Way of Greater Houston.

“We began by helping our students gain financial independence by making mops and brooms,” explained “Gib” DuTerroil. “Our students now provide highly skilled services, including medical transcription and telephone answering services for major hospital systems and corporations.

Gib also mentioned an insighful story about how a Lighthouse volunteer had helped a blind person for several decades. After the volunteer himself became visually handicapped in his senior years, it was the blind person, who served as the volunteer aide.

After dinner, Sandhya Rao gave a moving keynote address about how she overcame visual impairment and a disease of brittle bones since birth to attend Rice University as an undergraduate and Stanford University law school. Since 1995, Sandhya has been serving as a staff attorney for the US District Court of the Southern District of Texas, where she conducts research and writes briefs for two judges.

“On Memorial weekend of 2014, I fell and broke both legs and my right arm in two places,” Sandhya explained to the Club 24 audience. “The recovery was agonizingly painful for both me and my family. During that excruciating period of immobility, I realized that there was so much I wanted to do for myself, my family and for society, and I vowed to make the most of every moment going forward.”

Sandhya serves on The Lighthouse board and speaks on behalf of the organization in front of community groups. She is also participating with iBUG, an app for Apple iDevices to modernize technologies for the blind, including optical character recognition, GPS navigation, talking reading machines, etc.
The emotionally draining event concluded with a tour of The Lighthouse facilities.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *