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HomeAt Home & BeyondLighthouse for the Blind Fundraiser: Dining in the Dark

Lighthouse for the Blind Fundraiser: Dining in the Dark

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An upcoming community event promises to shed light on an important issue by way of “dining in the dark.” Sponsorships and tickets are now on sale for Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind’s 7th Annual Dining in the Dark taking place from 6-10 pm on Friday, November 18, at Silverthorn Country Club. Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind, Inc., which serves Hernando, Pasco, and Citrus counties, is based locally at 6492 California Street, Brooksville, FL 34604. “It’s our first in-person Dining in the Dark since the pandemic began, it’s our first-ever interactive dining experience, and it’s business-casual!” read information provided by Lighthouse.

Dining in the Dark is Lighthouse’s annual Hernando County Fundraiser, which benefits Lighthouse programs for people who are visually impaired and blind. “This is our first in person event in three years,” said Stefanie Pontlitz, CEO of Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind. “The event has been known to net $25-30,000 for these programs.”

And beyond raising valuable funds for this underserved population, this event promises guests a genuine ‘taste’ of life as it is for a visually challenged individual.

This interactive reception will give guests the opportunity to meet people who are visually impaired, and visit hands-on stations where the guests “will step into the shoes of a Lighthouse client.” They will be blindfolded at these stations and taught basic independence skills such as using a white cane, deciphering between foods served on a plate, navigating a cell phone, and completing a special craft provided by Lighthouse teen volunteers. “This is a chance for people to experience the lives of our clients,” said Pontlitz. “They relearn how to walk, how to use a phone, how to do things.”

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Then guests can sit down to a delicious buffet featuring appetizers and a buffet consisting of Chicken Marsala, Penne alla Vodka, Flounder with Orange Hollandaise, seasonal vegetables, rubbed roasted potatoes, and dessert, a silent auction, a chance raffle, dancing to the music of Big Daddy DJ Services, and more. “They’ll enjoy a full, gourmet meal and dancing,” said Pontlitz.

Proceeds will go to support a full array of complimentary Lighthouse services, including teaching clients how to advocate for themselves, providing services that include adjustment to vision loss counseling, shopping, accessible documents, safety at home, assistance with personal errands & activities, Braille reading, support groups, Little Lighthouse education programs for babies and toddlers, and independent living adapted skills training. Lighthouse staff teaches sight-challenged children how to adjust to the public school experience, tie their shoes, zip up their jackets, etc., helps adults with job placement skills, helps all with cooking and dining skills, technology training, etc. “They still can do anything other people can,” said Pontlitz. “We teach them how. It’s about teaching them how to adapt and survive in the world.”

To support Dining in the Dark, one can purchase sponsorships using the online sponsorship form or download the all-in-one order form; purchase tickets or make monetary donations using the online reservation form–each ticket is $75; place your order on the phone, donate silent auction prizes or pose any questions to Patricia Porter at 727-815-0303 or [email protected]. “We’re so glad to be back out in the community,” said Pontlitz.

Dining in the Dark event,  Photo by J David Wright
Dining in the Dark event, Photo by J David Wright

Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey
Megan Hussey is a features journalist and author who is the winner of Florida Press Association honors and a certificate of appreciation from LINCS (Family Support Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force) and Sunrise Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center for her newspaper coverage of these issues. She graduated cum laude from Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., with a journalism major and English/sociology minor, and previously wrote for publications that include the Pasco editions of The Tampa Tribune and Tampa Bay Times. A native of Indiana, she lives in Florida.
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