Jasmyn’s Story Underscores Value of Services for Emotional Wellbeing

Jasmyn remembers the heat of the two-ton vehicle rolling over her. She recounts screaming and a driver who did not stop. She recalls wondering if she would be crushed or burnt to death.

Jasmyn, who has lived with low vision since developing Glaucoma at the age of 9, has never let circumstances stop her. However, being run over in a crosswalk she used frequently while holding her white cane was something different. She says, “I was depressed, angry … [and] mad that someone took my independence.”

After learning about Sights for Hope, Jasmyn began to attend peer support group meetings at its Monroe Services Center. The sessions are led by a man who has thrived with a visual impairment for decades. His advice of “look at what you can do instead of what you can’t do” eschewed pity and pushed Jasmyn to process her feelings and rebuild her determination. Today, Jasmyn teaches Braille to her fellow Sights for Hope clients and is taking graduate courses to learn how to teach people with visual impairments. Her story is also the focus of Sights for Hope’s spring fundraising campaign. Jasmyn says, “Blindness doesn’t define who you are. I just have to do things differently than everyone else.”

Jasmyn’s triumphant story underscores the critical importance of Sights for Hope’s services that focus on emotional wellbeing. Since 2022, Sights for Hope has increased its number of personal counseling hours by nearly double. Meanwhile, its support group meetings frequently are a month’s most attended programs and its Monroe group meeting routinely packs a long meeting room designed to comfortably seat 20 people. Sights for Hope’s new client activity area at its Lehigh Valley Services Center, which is set to open this spring, will have a dedicated therapy room for counseling.

“We have expanded our investment into the emotional wellbeing of those we serve because our objective is to drive the impacts that are more important to them,” said Dennis Zehner, Executive Director and CEO of Sights for Hope. “We also understand that our wonderful life skills education programs and enriching experiences only can be effective when a person’s emotional state of mind has a degree of stability. For example, Jasmyn always had the strength and energy to conquer challenges, but in a moment of unique crisis it was the support she received from Sights for Hope that reawakened it.”

Contributions to Sights for Hope’s campaign can be made at SightsforHope.org/Jasmyn.

Counseling sessions are free for clients by appointment, but availability remains limited. Support group meetings held monthly in the Lehigh Valley and Monroe County are free and open to all clients. Sights for Hope’s guided transportation service is offered for all these programs.

Sights for Hope transforms the lives of people with visual impairments and blindness by removing the barriers to their independence. Sights for Hope’s services teach adaptive skills to accomplish daily life activities; provide supports that counter the effects of visual impairments and blindness; increase access to medical care, healthy food, and other essentials; and advance solutions that enhance sight capabilities. More than 40% of Sights for Hope’s clients live below or near the federal poverty line. Founded in 1928, Sights for Hope carries forward in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley and Monroe County a tradition of service inspired by Helen Keller and is a member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind.

Image: Sights for Hope client Jasmyn makes a heart symbol with her hands; she is wearing and dark purple shirt and is in front of a light purple backdrop