This blind taste test is not to compare foods, but to build our compassion
SAN DIEGO–Picture yourself wearing a blindfold while eating. A blind person is challenged with eating in darkness at each meal. In 1999 Jane Clifton and Dave Ward from the Hillcrest Mission Valley Lion’s Club were invited to eat lunch blindfolded while Blind Center students cooked and served them. This experience prompted the couple to agree to organize the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Blind Center during the past eleven years.
On Wednesday, November 18, volunteers from the Hillcrest Mission Valley Lion’s Club and Temple Emanu-El joined to cook and serve hot Thanksgiving meals to San Diego Blind Center patrons. Clifton and Ward from the Lion’s Club and Lee Loventhal from Temple Emanu-El recruited members for this memorable mitzvah.
Volunteers served 280 patrons. The meal was the only hot Thanksgiving dinner many patrons would have. The Blind Center collected $1700 made in the raffle and $133 made by selling extra Thanksgiving take-out dinners.
The San Diego Blind Center teaches independent living skills to those who are visually impaired. Many of the patrons are older women with macular degeneration. The program lasts nine months at which time students graduate.
Several staff members have worked at the Blind Center for 35 years. Mary Wischmeyer is a mobility instructor through the San Diego Community College District. She is trained to teach the visually impaired and has worked there since 1979. Bob Jackson worked as a professional tennis player until he lost his sight and became blind at age 33. Jackson went back to school and now serves as the staff clinical psychologist.
Blind Center personnel staffed the annual Thanksgiving dinner for 25 years until a former public relations manager asked Clifton and Ward to take over. After footing a $1200 bill the first two years, the couple asked the Lion’s Club for financial backing. The Thanksgiving dinner has since become a Lion’s Club and Temple Emanu-El project. Clifton said that the Blind Center still uses the turkey decorations made by Temple Emanu-El preschoolers.
We often take our vision for granted until we start to lose it.
This Thanksgiving we can be grateful for our senses. Eating in darkness is no small feat. Let’s be compassionate to those struggling with physical challenges.
(Author’s note: Helen Keller requested The Lion’s Clubs to become knights of the blind.)
Appel-Lennon is a San Diego-based freelance writer. Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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