Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – More than 300 people, including Mayor Ken Keechl and Congressman Ted Deutch, gathered recently at the Global Grille Downtown Event Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the Lighthouse of Broward and learn about the important services the organization provides to people in Broward County who are blind or visually impaired.
The event, together with a six-month campaign and a matching grant from the Josephine S. Leiser Foundation, raised more than $100,000 to support Lighthouse programs. Everett Osceola, the outreach coordinator for the Seminole Tribe of Florida Museum, served as master of ceremonies and shared that the General Counsel for the Tribe Jim Shore lives successfully with blindness. He also pointed out that visual impairment is a growing concern among Native Americans as the incidence of diabetes grows. “This community is fortunate to have had the services of the Lighthouse for the past 35 years,” he said.
Executive Director of the Lighthouse Elly du Pré shared how the Lighthouse has grown over the past 35
years and outlined the various services the Lighthouse offers to help people with visual impairment live productive independent lives. “One thing that hasn’t changed—blindness is still what most people say they fear the most,” she said, adding that the trained professionals at the Lighthouse “have the passion and the training to help people who are visually impaired gain the confidence and courage they need to get back to living.
“We all Share the Vision—that people who are blind or visually impaired live and contribute as full partners in their families, school, work and community.”
Among the historic milestones du Pre‘ recounted was the 2001 opening of Nova Southeastern University College of Optometry’s Low Vision Clinic, which evaluates patients of all ages to determine if they need special magnifying lenses or other low-vision devices. By having an NSU clinic at the Lighthouse, patients can get their eyes examined and have direct access to follow-up services. Experienced Lighthouse training staff conduct in-home visits to assist patients with the use of the new aids.
“NSU’s partnership with Lighthouse benefits everyone,” said Nicole Patterson, O.D., FAAO, chief of the College of Optometry’s Low Vision and Geriatric Services. “Our partnership provides our students with unique opportunities they wouldn’t have otherwise. Lighthouse benefits by having a doctor on site three days a week to answer patient questions and provide evaluations.”
An emotional video highlighted the services of the Lighthouse, as well as interviews with several clients. Lighthouse clients also gave live testimonials at the breakfast about how the organization touched their lives. Ricardo and Misti Liborio talked about their three-year old daughter, Bella, who was left blind after brain surgery. Alma Myrek also took to the stage with her dog guide, Elijah, to talk about how the Lighthouse helped her connect socially in a way that has made her life more fulfilling. The program culminated with a presentation by Hart McIntyre, a past president of the Lighthouse Board of Directors, who offered guests the opportunity to make contributions to the Lighthouse.
Entertainment was provided by Kiskadee, a musician, song writer and singer who has been blind since birth and recently moved to the United States from England (www.kiskadee.net). She also works at the Lighthouse as a career readiness counselor.
Nearly 20 sponsors supported the breakfast, including Wood Business Systems as the top sponsor, and table hosts Miller Construction Company, Essilor, The McKinley Foundation Health Care Consortium, Fort Lauderdale Eye Institute, the law firm, Finizio & Finizio; United Heathcare and American Top Team.
Lighthouse of Broward
The Lighthouse of Broward is a 501 ( c ) 3 charity that serves blind and visually impaired babies,
adults and seniors. All services are tailored to meet individual needs, based on assessments conducted
by certified professionals. These professionals identify the exact skills needed for the Lighthouse client
to achieve maximum independence.
Accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving People with Blindness or
Visual Impairment (NAC), Lighthouse of Broward is a United Way partner agency and member of the
Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind and is sponsored by State of Florida, Department of
Education/Division of Blind Services. Operating funds are raised through grants and donations from
individual and corporate supporters.
If you know someone who is blind or visually impaired or would like to make a donation, contact
the Lighthouse at 954-463-4217 or 650 N. Andrews Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311 or donate online: