08/17/2017

Please join us in welcoming Billy Goad to the Lighthouse family!

Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth is proud to announce Billy Goad as our new Business Development Representative for our drug testing devices. Billy graduated from Texas A&M University in 2007 and has lived in Dallas most of his life. His sales career began 10 years…

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Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth is proud to announce Billy Goad as our new Business Development Representative for our drug testing devices.

Billy graduated from Texas A&M University in 2007 and has lived in Dallas most of his life. His sales career began 10 years ago with telecommunications and medical devices.

During his free time you can find Billy cheering on the Aggies or down in Hill Country on his family’s ranch.

“I am excited about joining the Lighthouse team, and look forward to doing my part to help out the blind community in Tarrant County.” -Billy Goad

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06/26/2017

Rheana Maloney, Executive Administrative Assistant

In April we had to say goodbye to a very loved employee as Donna Miller set off to the wonderful world of retirement. For 8 years, Donna performed an amazing job as Executive Administrative Assistant to our CEO, Platt L. Allen, III. We'll all miss her tremendously,…

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In April we had to say goodbye to a very loved employee as Donna Miller set off to the wonderful world of retirement. For 8 years, Donna performed an amazing job as Executive Administrative Assistant to our CEO, Platt L. Allen, III.

We’ll all miss her tremendously, but she left us in great hands when she selected Rheana Maloney as her replacement!

Rheana is originally from the Springtown area in Parker County, but recently moved back to the Fort Worth area after spending several years in East Texas, doing work in juvenile and CPS courts and eventually becoming a clerk for the 124th District court in Gregg County.

Rheana is a magna cum laude graduate from the University of Texas at Tyler. She holds an HR and business management degree, as well as a paralegal degree. Rheana and her husband, Lance, have two children: CarMendi (11 years old) and Cutter (6 years old). They are active members of Keystone Church in Keller.

Rheana is dedicated to the mission behind the lighthouse and looks forward to shining that beacon of light to all Lighthouse employees.

“I feel privileged to be here.” -Rheana Maloney

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05/31/2017

Andrew Bernet selected for NIB Employee-Focused Video!

Congratulations to Andrew Bernet on being selected to be featured in NIB’s upcoming Employee-Focused “A Day in the Life” video! National Industries for the Blind, NIB, recently selected Andrew for his inspiring story to help explain the value of the work NIB is doing to provide meaningful…

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Congratulations to Andrew Bernet on being selected to be featured in NIB’s upcoming Employee-Focused “A Day in the Life” video!

National Industries for the Blind, NIB, recently selected Andrew for his inspiring story to help explain the value of the work NIB is doing to provide meaningful employment for people who are blind.

Read below for Andrew’s story…

At 22 years old, Andrew was attending college at the University of Arkansas when he lost vision overnight due to diabetic retinopathy. He soon returned home to Texas and continued classes at NCTC to finish his core classes. During this time he was not aware of any rehabilitation services, but this did not stop him from making it through his first semester after becoming visually impaired.

Drew began to teach himself how to travel with an identity cane and even persuaded his professors to allow him to dictate his papers onto a cassette tape since he had not discovered screen readers. The following semester Drew discovered vocational rehabilitation services and decided to take a semester off so that he could put all his focus on these services including, orientation & mobility training. While receiving his training he decided to enroll at Stephen F. Austin University, where he received a Bachelor’s of Science in Rehabilitation Services with a focus in Orientation & Mobility.

Drew is now a Certified Orientation & Mobility Instructor at Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth.

Drew has not allowed his vision loss to stop him from living a full life! He lives independently in an apartment in Fort Worth, TX with his guide dog, Jonas. Jonas is his constant companion that hates being separated from Drew.

Aside from working full time, Drew is completing his masters in Adaptive Physical Education at Texas Women’s University in Denton, TX. On days he has class, Drew uses the bus & Uber to get to his casework for the Lighthouse before traveling approx. 60 miles to class. He takes an Uber ride to the train station in Fort Worth, a train to Dallas, a train to Carrollton, a train to Denton, & finally a bus to TWU. After class he has to take a bus from TWU to the train station in Denton, a train to Carrollton, a train to Dallas, a train to Arlington, & from there he has to either take an Uber or taxi home. This takes over 2.5 hours each way!

Drew stays active by organizing and coaching Goalball for the Lighthouse Banditos and is the captain of his Beep Ball team, the Lonestar Roadrunners. He also makes regular weekend trips to visit his lovely girlfriend, who lives 4 hours away.

And on top of this, Drew attends conferences and seminars all over the country and has begun presenting as well.

 “Laughter is my inspiration!” – Andrew Bernet

We are so excited that NIB selected Andrew for their upcoming feature! Make sure to check back, we will share the video once NIB has posted it.

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04/18/2017

Lisa Fellers Named Head of Development

Lisa Fellers is an accomplished fundraising executive with an extensive background managing communications and development departments in the non-profit, educational, and healthcare industries. As the new head of development, Lisa brings a tremendous energy and passion to the Lighthouse and is a welcomed addition to our team of…

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Lisa Fellers is an accomplished fundraising executive with an extensive background managing communications and development departments in the non-profit, educational, and healthcare industries. As the new head of development, Lisa brings a tremendous energy and passion to the Lighthouse and is a welcomed addition to our team of dedicated professionals. Her primary responsibility is raising funds to employ and empower the blind community. She has actively built a professional network of businesses and community stakeholders and will utilize these contacts to establish a strong donor base in support of our mission.

Lisa earned two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Texas at Arlington in PR/Journalism and Spanish as well as a master’s degree from Southwestern Seminary. Lisa most recently served as director of development for The WARM Place and previously as director of alumni relations for the University of Dallas. She held the position of director of communications for the North Texas Commission, Texas Wesleyan University and Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, Lisa worked for the state as the regional public health promotion manager and directed the public relations program for The Salvation Army of Tarrant County.

Lisa is an avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys, bilingual in Spanish, a professional singer performing oldies music at local venues, and active in her church.

“I will be a walking billboard for the Lighthouse…it’s such an amazing organization!”

Lisa Fellers Headshot

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03/30/2017

Rick Bruner, Business Development

The Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth is proud to announce Rick Bruner as our new Business Development Representative for boxes and tubes. Rick’s career in business development and sales extends over 20 year, where he has focused on shipping and packaging product sales. He has…

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The Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth is proud to announce Rick Bruner as our new Business Development Representative for boxes and tubes.

Rick’s career in business development and sales extends over 20 year, where he has focused on shipping and packaging product sales. He has received awards for top producer and has won many accolades & awards for productivity.

A lifelong resident of Fort Worth, Rick has 3 daughters with his wife, Susan, and 2 grandsons. Rick enjoys spending his free time outdoors and especially enjoys gardening and golfing. He is also active on several volunteer committees that include: Meals on Wheels & the Colonial Youth Golf Clinic. Rick attends Trinity Bible Church in Willow Park.

Rick is excited to be a part of the Lighthouse team and enjoys the camaraderie with his co-workers, as well as the new business relationships he is developing in the field.

Rick Bruner

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01/16/2017

New Board Leadership at the Lighthouse

The Tarrant County Association for the Blind dba Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth welcomes a new chairman to the board of directors.  Dr. Jennifer Deakins, clinic director at the Community Eye Clinic, assumed this position at the recently held agency’s annual meeting.  Two newly elected…

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The Tarrant County Association for the Blind dba Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth welcomes a new chairman to the board of directors.  Dr. Jennifer Deakins, clinic director at the Community Eye Clinic, assumed this position at the recently held agency’s annual meeting.  Two newly elected board members were also introduced.

Jeff Moten is a 1986 TCU graduate and works in the banking and financial industry.  A long-time resident of the Fort Worth community, he brings not only valuable financial knowledge to the agency but he is also versed in board operations gleaned from his current and past involvement with several other local nonprofit board of directors.

Blake Billings is also TCU graduate and as well a 2012 graduate from the SMU School of Law.  He is currently in practice as an Associate Attorney with the law firm of Harris, Finley & Bogle, P.C.  Billings will also bring a unique perspective to the local Lighthouse board as a result of having served on the East Texas Lighthouse board of directors previously.  Join us in welcoming these new board leaders.  

Dr. Jennifer Deakins
Dr. Jennifer Deakins
Blake Billings
Blake Billings
Jeff Moten
Jeff Moten
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12/07/2016

Angela Suhail Hired to Promote New Optical Lab

It sounds a little ironic when Angela Suhail introduces herself as the newest hire at Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth and explains that she is in Business Development for the Lighthouse’s Optical Lab Services. Optical Lab Services?  That’s right.  The Lighthouse’s newest division is a…

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It sounds a little ironic when Angela Suhail introduces herself as the newest hire at Lighthouse for the Blind of Fort Worth and explains that she is in Business Development for the Lighthouse’s Optical Lab Services.

Optical Lab Services?  That’s right.  The Lighthouse’s newest division is a team of experienced lab technicians and opticians – both sighted and visually impaired – that will produce high quality completed prescription eye glasses.  Prescriptive safety eyewear will also be available.

Suhail brings over 22 years of sales and technical experience in the Optical, Optometric and Ophthalmic industry to the Lighthouse.  For the last 11 years, she worked for a large multi doctor Ophthalmology group to build the practice’s brand.  Prior to her Business Development role, Suhail developed her technical knowledge in the Refractive Surgery Industry.  While holding a position in sales and a clinical role, she learned the ocular anatomy and surgical components of laser vision correction.  In these early days of laser vision correction, she logged many hours as a surgical scrub tech, inside sales, and optometric technician.

Initially, her extensive experience has its start in the Optical retail field with a large national company, specializing in both an on-site lab and retail.  While mastering the Optical principles necessary for certification, Suhail soon became the Regional Training Coordinator after being awarded Sales Associate of the Year.

These beginnings in the Optical industry will be the foundation of her passion devoted to the start-up of the Optical Lab Division for the Lighthouse of the Blind in Fort Worth.  For more information or to make an appointment to tour the Lighthouse, contact Angela Suhail at 817-332-3341.

Angela Suhail

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11/08/2016

April Harris Named Head of Client Services

Please join us in welcoming April Harris to the Lighthouse team.  April will be heading up Client Services, formerly called Rehabilitation Services. April has worked in the Tarrant County nonprofit field for the last 20 years, starting out in direct client care and eventually moving into leadership…

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Please join us in welcoming April Harris to the Lighthouse team.  April will be heading up Client Services, formerly called Rehabilitation Services. April has worked in the Tarrant County nonprofit field for the last 20 years, starting out in direct client care and eventually moving into leadership positions.  She is a lifelong resident of Arlington and is the proud mother of Grace, 18, and Jake, 14.  April graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1995 the obtained her MBA from Texas Christian University in 2012.  She is very excited to be a part of the mission of Lighthouse for the Blind by empowering people who are blind so they can lead successful, independent lives.

April Harris

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2016 Shot in the Dark – more than just about playing golf or drinking wine

The evening weather could not have been more perfect on October 7th for the sixth annual Shot in the Dark Night Golf Tournament and Wine Dinner when 88 golfers and 102 wine diners showed up at River Crest Country Club.  Guests were greeted by both two legged…

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The evening weather could not have been more perfect on October 7th for the sixth annual Shot in the Dark Night Golf Tournament and Wine Dinner when 88 golfers and 102 wine diners showed up at River Crest Country Club.  Guests were greeted by both two legged and four legged members of the Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers – Fort Worth and directed into the reception.

Following welcoming remarks by Master of Ceremonies Jeff Jamison of CBS 11, guests enjoyed perusing the silent auction while enjoying appetizers and cocktails.  Golfers ventured outside for early practice where they also enjoyed Dinner on the Green before teeing off at sunset.

Wine diners were treated to a gourmet dinner paired with wines from the Stags’ Leap Winery.  Fran Baker joined Jamison to fully describe each wine.  A highlight of the dinner came when Lighthouse consumer Kay Littlejohn shared her personal story and heartfelt feelings as to how the Lighthouse has impacted her life.  She summed it up this way, “I never thought I would be here at this moment, travelling independently, smiling, feeling good about me, and enjoying the company of other people. When I lost my sight, I thought my life was over.  Thanks to the training by the Lighthouse, I enjoy each day and have hope for my future.”

Golfers rejoined the wine dinner guests for dessert, close of the silent auction and the awarding of trophies.  Special congratulations to the teams representing Texas Capital Bank and Frost Bank for having best scores of the evening.

An event of this magnitude requires the support and efforts of many – sponsors, auction donors and volunteers.  Those names are gratefully recognized on subsequent pages in this newsletter.  The Lighthouse also would like to express a heartfelt thanks to the hardworking committee, several of who have been involved for several years.

Participation in the 2016 Shot in the Dark is more than just about donating an item or playing a fun game of golf or enjoying a delicious dinner entree with a nice glass of wine; it is about making a difference to someone who is blind by providing them the means to acquire the skills, support and confidence that will empower them to lead an independent, successful life.  Net proceeds will directly benefit local youth and adults who are blind or have low vision – individuals like Kay Littlejohn.

 

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08/09/2016

Guide, Eat, and Sleep: A Day in the Life of a Lighthouse Guide Dog

Three members of the Lighthouse team wear their coat every day, walk around on all fours, sleep on the job, very seldom bark out their orders, and always get special attention from employees and visitors. It is with pleasure that we introduce you to Dana, Jonas, and…

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Three members of the Lighthouse team wear their coat every day, walk around on all fours, sleep on the job, very seldom bark out their orders, and always get special attention from employees and visitors. It is with pleasure that we introduce you to Dana, Jonas, and Piper – Guide Dogs Extraordinaire!

Jonas is the old man among the three at age seven years. Here are things that Andrew Bernet has to share about his guide dog:
Training School: Guide Dogs for the Blind, Portland, OR campus
Breed: Yellow Lab
How long has he been your guide: Five and a half years
Name something unique about Jonas: Whenever he isn’t working, he will punch me when he is hungry.
What will happen when Jonas retires: He will continue to be a much beloved member of my household.
Why did you choose to get a guide dog: I use both a guide dog and white cane, depending on the situation. I like traveling with a dog because we can travel faster. It is also pretty cool that I am able to bring my hairy buddy along to all places.
Interesting note about Andrew is that he is one of two Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialists employed at the Lighthouse.

Piper was the first of the three guide dogs to arrive at the Lighthouse, joining the Lighthouse team in 2012 when Jamie Larson came on staff as our receptionist.
Training School: Guide Dogs of America, Sylmar, Ca
Breed: Black Labrador Retriever
How long has she been your guide: Four and a half years
How old is she: Six and a half years
Name something unique about Piper: She doesn’t make any noise except when she sleeps
What will happen when Piper retires: She will stay with me; she is like one of one my kids
Why did you choose to get a guide dog: I saw a guide dog many years ago and decided that if I ever got to a point where I needed assistance, a guide dog would be my choice
How did you choose your school: I applied at several schools and three – one in New York, one in Connecticut, and one in California – offered me a position in a class. Given it was winter and I was from California, I chose the California school.
What is one more thing we need to know about Piper: She is extremely sensitive to people’s feelings, and she tries to comfort people when they are upset.

Dana is the youngest of the three. She guides Assistive Technology Specialist Shawn Keen and is his fifth guide dog.
Training School: Guide Dogs for the Blind
Breed: Golden Retriever Lab Mix
How long has she been your guide: Two and a half years
How old is Dana: Four years
Name something unique about Dana: She is generally so quiet that you don’t know she’s there
What will happen when Dana retires: I will keep her; in the past, other dogs have gone to friends to live the “good life”
Why did you choose to get a guide dog: While I do use a guide dog, I find that I am an independent traveler with both a cane and a dog. However, the dog is most beneficial for me when traveling out of town or in unfamiliar places
What is one more thing we need to know about Dana: While she is very quiet and well behaved while in harness, she can also be a total “spaz” at home:
Why did you go through Guide Dogs for the Blind: My first dog came from GDB

Just a reminder that the Lighthouse loves having guide dogs in the “House” and proudly host the monthly meetings of the Fort Worth Chapter of Guide Dogs for the Blind Puppies in Training. For information on the puppy raisers, contact Nancy at the Lighthouse.

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Lighthouse Sales Team Expands – Independence comes with the Job

The Lighthouse Sales Team has recently hired two amazingly talented inside sales representatives, Mindy Duran and Michael Evers. Mindy was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 12 and by age 17, she was no longer able to ignore her situation. She chose to live a restrictive life…

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The Lighthouse Sales Team has recently hired two amazingly talented inside sales representatives, Mindy Duran and Michael Evers. Mindy was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age 12 and by age 17, she was no longer able to ignore her situation. She chose to live a restrictive life and accepted her perceived reality that she should be content staying at home and taking care of her infant son, Ezekiel, the best she could. As her son grew older, Mindy made the choice to be more of a role model for independence. She was advised to contact the Lighthouse for additional training in technology and independent living skills. In February 2016, Mindy made that phone call. Within a week, she was sitting in keyboarding classes refreshing her computer skills, expanding her knowledge, and building her confidence. She also took advantage of free braille classes. No doubt, Mindy approached her training very seriously as an example to Ezekiel, but others were noticing. When an inside sales position became open at the Lighthouse, she was the perfect fit to fill the role.

Michael, on the other hand, was diagnosed with Congenital Glaucoma and Cataracts at birth. He has endured 13 eye surgeries without any improvement to his sight. Michael has never let his low vision stop him from his pursuit of independence. He is willing to try anything and isn’t sacred to tackle the toughest tasks. He currently holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and has successfully completed the National Industries for the Blind (NIB) Fellowship for Leadership Development. However, his greatest accomplishment was when he was able to persuade the Governor of Virginia to keep the Virginia Board of Education from closing the Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind at Hampton at the age of 12. As you can see Mike is fearless and plans one day to open Big Mike’s BBQ restaurant.

With these two additions, the Lighthouse Sales Team is shining bright. Mindy is focused on servicing our AbilityOne Distributors as well as making sure all the state agencies know about our copy paper. Mike is helping establish new customers for our Machine Shop and spreading the word of our drug testing capabilities. They both have amazing personalities that make everyone smile. Mindy’s laughter is contagious and you can hear it all over the building. They define exactly what the Lighthouse is all about…Independence.

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Camp Lighthouse @ the Y is More Than Just About iPads

Eleven Texas youth who are blind or are significantly vision impaired had the opportunity to hone their technology skills during a week-long stay as part of the 2016 Camp Lighthouse @ the Y. This is the 5th year for the collaboration with YMCA Camp Carter and the…

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Eleven Texas youth who are blind or are significantly vision impaired had the opportunity to hone their technology skills during a week-long stay as part of the 2016 Camp Lighthouse @ the Y. This is the 5th year for the collaboration with YMCA Camp Carter and the fifth year for the generous funding support from the Alcon Foundation.

Along with learning basic operations, campers learned about apps that are pertinent in the classroom and in daily life; apps such as the KNFB Reader and the iMovie app. In addition to hands-on learning, campers had the opportunity to interact with other campers, sight-impaired and sighted; meet adult mentors who are visually impaired; and participate in and enjoy other true “camp experiences” including archery, skeet shooting, arts and crafts, swimming, and hiking. Sighted campers experienced beep baseball with their fellow blind campers. Beep baseball is a popular sport within the blind community that has similar characteristics to baseball as many of us know it but allows for accommodations in the way of beeping baseballs and beeping bases.

The camp finale was a celebration with parents, family members, and Camp Carter staff where campers shared their movie projects. Each camper was awarded their very own iPad, but the best gift they most treasured was memorable the summer experiences and their new friends.

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