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”.
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.
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.
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!
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, 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 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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