Friday, November 16, 2018
Florida Catholic staff - Florida Catholic
MIAMI | Archbishop Thomas Wenski witnessed how a biblical passage becomes reality Nov. 8 when he visited the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
The Lighthouse teaches the blind and visually impaired that it is possible to see without sight, said the facility’s president and CEO, Virginia Jacko, quoting Isaiah 42:16: “And I will bring the blind by a way they did not know, I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, and crooked places straight.”
The archbishop began his visit by touring the Lighthouse’s innovative Learning Center for Children, where he was serenaded by a group of pre-kindergarteners who delivered an emotional rendition of “You Are My Sunshine.” They also presented the archbishop with their Lighthouse tribute gift.
The Lighthouse Learning Center is a first-of-its-kind fully inclusive pre-kindergarten for both visually impaired students and their sighted peers which is being recognized as a national model. Enrollment has nearly quadrupled since its inception three years ago.
The archbishop also toured the Lighthouse’s adult programs, including the Senior Group Health and Activities Program where he witnessed seniors, despite their vision loss, artistically expressing themselves through painting and ceramics.
At the nationally recognized Miami Lighthouse Music Studio, the new United Voices Gospel Choir delivered a heartfelt performance of “I Believe.”
Jacko, totally blind herself, told the archbishop that “the miracles we just sang about happen here every day.”
The archbishop concluded his tour at the Low Vision Solutions Center, where he observed patients waiting to be assessed by either a low vision optometrist or a low vision occupational therapist. He learned about low vision devices – such as solar shields and electronic magnification for reading -- that help seniors with age-related eye disease to remain productive and independent.
The Lighthouse offers other services for members of the Miami community affected by uncorrectable vision loss, a number estimated to be as high as 1 out of 4 seniors. The Miami Lighthouse Solutions Center also is available for presentations and services related to living with low vision.
“We greatly appreciate the archbishop’s interest for the blind and visually impaired members of our community,” said Ray Casas, immediate past board chairman of the Lighthouse. “We share a goal of helping those in need, be it spiritual or a physical impairment.”
Founded in 1931, Miami Lighthouse is Florida’s oldest and largest private institution serving the blind and visually impaired, with a state-of-the-art 150,000-square-foot landmark facility located in Little Havana. The Lighthouse traces its early roots to nearly 90 years ago. Today, about 17,000 people each year benefit from its services.
For more information visit www.miamilighthouse.org or call 305-856-4176.