Laurel Jean Presents...'

Laurel Jean Presents...'
Music with a Message and a Mission

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Highlights from my Life of Music and Ministry

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Dinner In The Dark

Recently, Dixie Land Guide Dog Users partnered with Grace United Methodist Church and Music By Laurel Jean, challenging sighted folks in the Lowcountry area to come enjoy an admission-free, donations-only spaghetti dinner…blindfolded. To our surprise and delight, around two hundred people accepted our invitation to dine in the dark.

guests enjoying Dinner In The Dark



Saturday January 29, guests ranging in age from eleven months to ninety-six years were greeted enthusiastically by our trained, sighted volunteers at the door of the Grace UMC Celebration Center. Those who asked for blindfolds received them and put them on at the door. Then, these “newly-blinded” guests were escorted to their tables. Our volunteers had been instructed in how to show a blind person to his/her chair and how to orient a blind person with table settings, food and drinks.

Some people left their blindfolds on throughout the entire evening. Others became dizzy and disoriented and had to remove their blindfolds. All left with a new appreciation of what it is like to “see things differently”.

Laurel at microphone



In addition to serving as a musical emcee for this exciting “fun-raiser”, I was honored to assist with the event’s organization and the training of volunteers.

Grace Youth learn to be sighted guides



Here, two youth from Grace UMC help each other to learn the sighted guide technique. After everyone had learned to be a sighted guide, we asked if anyone would like to try navigating around the youth house using Slim, my long white cane.

youth experiment navigating with long, white cane



The youth were ready for the challenge. I think they did pretty well, having only been blinded for less than five minutes and having no formal mobility training whatsoever!

Youth director Bruce tries using the cane



Even Bruce, Grace’s youth director, took his turn walking around the room with Slim.

For me, our version of Dinner In The Dark felt more like a big family gathering than an outreach event. Barriers came down as sighted and blind people alike enjoyed food and fellowship, music and laughter. My thanks to the families of Brianna, Taylor and Shelby, all blind youth of the Lowcountry, for their involvement in this event.

Brianna playing her violin



Brianna, a high school honor student at Charleston School of the Arts, helped provide dinner music with her violin. It is always a joy for me to accompany her violin playing at the piano.

Taylor and Shelby each took a turn sharing their vocal talent.

Taylor singing

 


Taylor had everyone clapping their hands and patting their feet to a rousing rendition of “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus.”

So many people and organizations helped make this community outreach possible, and it was truly an honor for Music By Laurel Jean to be a part of this “eye-opening” event!

Stay tuned for more posts like this one. Until next time, God bless you and keep His Song in your heart!

© 2011 by Laurel Jean Walden

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About Me

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God has blessed me with a Music Ministry that is still ongoing and growing after twenty-plus years. This includes my outreach promoting Braille Literacy in the Christian venue, and my recently-founded Children's Chaplaincy for blind youth. To make things a bit more interesting, I have also been blind since birth. I consider my blindness to be a unique gift from God, an opportunity to serve as an ambassador among blind and sighted folks of all ages, on all walks of life. To learn more about my work, from South Carolina to Central Illinois and beyond, please visit my Web site, and be sure to stay tuned to my Blog!