Sights for Hope honored 40 employees and volunteers and marked one year with its new name Tuesday during its first Team Appreciation Luncheon.
The luncheon at The Phoenix in Nazareth, PA, was organized by Sights for Hope’s Board of Directors, and attendees received gifts of appreciation with support from St. Luke’s University Health Network and Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network. The event also commemorated the upcoming 2022 National Volunteer Week, as established by the Points of Light organization, and provided Sights for Hope an opportunity to reflect on its accomplishments and aspirations.
Between its name change on April 6, 2021, and April 6, 2022, Sights for Hope enrolled 103 clients with visual impairments. In its 2018-2019 service year, the last one completed prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sights for Hope registered 83 clients. Sights for Hope also has enhanced its public presence and resumed all its services after most were shut down at the start of the pandemic.
In its upcoming 2022-2023 service year, Sights for Hope will expand the program space in its Lehigh Valley Services Center in Allentown, PA; implement a new strategic plan; and initiate programming for pre-kindergarten children and their families. The organization also will set out to achieve “big impact goals” by 2030 related to the provision of assistive technologies, life skills education experiences, and guided transport services for people with qualifying visual impairments, and to the provision of glasses and treatments for children ages 0-6 with impairments of any severity.
“Through their inextinguishable passion and boundless dedication, our professionals and volunteers have brought Sights for Hope to a point in which bigger aspirations can be pursued and bigger results can be achieved,” said Dennis Zehner, Executive Director and CEO of Sights for Hope. “Together, we will set an enduring standard for actualizing the most profound impact on those we serve. Together, we will continue to do more than remove barriers to transform lives. We will continue to transform lives by giving people back the power they most hold dear, the power over their own destinies.”
Service tenure awards given at Tuesday’s luncheon recognized employees, volunteers, members of Sights for Hope’s Board of Directors, and members of the affiliated Sights for Hope Endowment Foundation’s Board of Directors who reached service milestones. Sights for Hope’s team consists presently of 27 professionals and 102 active volunteers, including the members of its board and the endowment foundation’s board. Tenures with the former Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABVI) and the former Visual Impairment and Blindness Services (VIABL) – the organizations that consolidated in 2010 to become what is now Sights for Hope – also were applied for these awards.
Sights for Hope’s new Lifetime of Service Award was given to individuals who have served the organization for more than 20 years. The first recipients were Dianne Michels, Sights for Hope’s Vision Rehabilitation Therapist; Anthony Silvetti, O.D., Sights for Hope’s Low Vision Optometrist; volunteers Maureen Fernbacher, Lois Frederick, Annette Gozzard, Betty Kletzli, and Shirley Scarantino; endowment Board President Martin Lang; endowment Board Vice President Todd Donnelly; endowment Board Treasurer John Sharkey; endowment Board Secretary Thomas Reilly; endowment board member Gary Pave; and endowment board member Edward Vogrins. Lois Frederick received special recognition for her 50 years of volunteer service.
Ruthie Asmus, a Lehigh Valley Prevention Specialist, received a 15-year service award. Ten-year service awards were given to Rita Lang, Sights for Hope’s Client Activities Manager; and volunteers Britt Harris, MaryAnne Heeter, Lillian Moran, and Fay Sheeler.
Five-year service awards were given to staff members Byron Jackson, Cheryl Miller, Jennifer Pandolfo, Brian Schell, and Kim Williams; volunteers Paul Bartolucci, Amy Crowe, Angel Cruz, Kathleen Dennis, Gloria DeVito, Donna DiMenichi, Kristen Jenkins, Dorothy Montero, Cheryl Petrakovich, and Kim Weimert; Sights for Hope Board President Michael Wambaugh; Board Treasurer Fred Folland; board member and former Board President Linwood Gehris; and board member Lucille Piggot-Prawl.
Sights for Hope presented its Annie Sullivan Volunteer Service Award to Donna DiMenichi. The award recognizes a commitment to helping others by a volunteer that exemplifies Annie Sullivan’s spirit of teaching and friendship to Helen Keller. The organization gave its Annie’s Angel Volunteer Impact Award to Richard Siter. The award honors a volunteer who has made an impact that has improved a Sights for Hope client’s quality of life.
Sights for Hope gave its Helping Hands Volunteer Award to Cheryl Petrakovich. The award recognizes a volunteer for their dedication to a variety of projects that benefit people with visual impairments, as exemplified by Helen Keller, in Sights for Hope’s communities. The organization bestowed its Knight in Shining Armor Volunteer Award to Mary Visintainer. The award honors a volunteer who exemplifies versatility and dependability to respond to critical needs.
Sights for Hope blends a service tradition inspired by Helen Keller nearly a century ago with contemporary practices to remove the barriers to independence and success caused by visual impairments. Sights for Hope transforms the lives of people with visual impairments in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Monroe County through life skills education, specialized technologies, individualized support services, free vision screenings for children, and community education programs. Sights for Hope services impact more than 10,000 people in a typical year and are provided at little or no cost. A total of 85% of Sights for Hope clients with visual impairments are from low-income households. Sights for Hope, known formerly as Center for Vision Loss, is an independent member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB) and is affiliated with the VisionServe Alliance, a network of North American agencies that serve people with visual impairments.
Images: (Top image) Photo of a Sights for Hope Lifetime of Service Award pin in a man’s hand. (Instagram post images) Photo of volunteer Lois Frederick as she is honored for more than 50 years of service; photo of service tenure awards for Sights for Hope employees, board members, and volunteers; two photos of attendees of Sights for Hope’s 2022 Team Appreciation Luncheon; photo of Richard Siter, recipient of Sights for Hope’s Annie’s Angel Volunteer Impact Award; photo of Cheryl Petrakovich, recipient of Sights for Hope’s Helping Hands Volunteer Award; photo of Donna DiMenichi, recipient of Sights for Hope’s Annie Sullivan Volunteer Service Award.