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Lighthouse Guild’s LightYears Gala Raises Over $800,000

Lee Fryd

James Dubin, Darcy Stacom, Brian Gell, and Dr. Alan Morse. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Todd Meadow and Lizzi Bickford. (Photo: Annie Watt)

"Blindness or low vision affects one in every 28 people over the age of 40," Alan R. Morse, JD, PhD, President & Chief Executive Officer of the Lighthouse Guild, told the well-heeled group assembled at its annual LightYears Gala, at New York City's Mandarin Oriental on Tuesday, November 21. "In the United States, that means almost a million people are blind and another two-and-a-half million people have low vision." Lighthouse, the national leader in integrating vision and health care services, was officially formed in December 2013 when Jewish Guild Healthcare, formed in 1914, and Lighthouse International, formed in 1905, merged.

The benefit honored CBRE real estate's Brian Gell and Darcy Stacom and Immediate Past Chair of Lighthouse Guild Pauline Raiff, who has been involved for almost 60 years. "When I first started," she remembered, "we were more like a very big mom and pop organization here in NYC. And now we are nationwide. The most prestigious institutions in the country follow our programs. Amongst our peers, we are considered the top agency of our kind."

Katherine Rotella, Rachel Alonso-Mendoza, Catherine Petree, and Victoria Campbell. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Catherine Petree created the Young Visionaries Committee and Chaired it this year with Lizzi Bickford and Todd Meadow. The 2017 Young Visionaries Committee and guests included Rachel Alonso-Mendoza, Andrew Bellis, Nikki Breedlove, Thouraya Bahri, John Cooney, Victoria Campbell, Laura Gregorio, Dr. John Mesa, Joseph Peters, Kathryn Rotella, Brian Zingale, Bridget Zingale and Tom Zingale

Frederick Raiff and Pauline Raiff. (Photo: Annie Watt)

Adrienne Norbeck, a Type 1 Diabetic, lost her vision two years ago and found her way to Lighthouse. Newly blind, she remembers, "I was at home, my family had to work and I felt very alone and scared. I felt like my future had been taken from me. I felt the loss of my independence."

She got connected to the Lighthouse Guild. "Right away, people came to my home to teach me mobility skills," she continued, "to teach me to cook and clean for myself again. And I started to feel little bit better. Once my mobility got up to par, I started coming to the actual building for classes and lessons. I met so many wonderful people here. I've learned braille and computer training and I took a precollege course this summer. I hope to go back to school in September or become a nutritionist so hopefully I can help other people prevent what happened to me."

Prevention is a key goal for the organization, moving forward. The evening raised over $800,000, making it one of the top grossing events in the history of both Lighthouse and the Jewish Guild for the Blind. That money will allow Lighthouse Guild to expand services nationwide for the more than 28,000 coming through their doors.

For more information, visit www.lighthouseguild.org.

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