The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Community

December 28, 2012

Pinetops Lions fete visually impaired

TARBORO — A Christmas party at the Pinetops Lions Club Community House on Thursday, Dec. 20 brought holiday cheer to the blind and visually impaired.

“The main thing that this Lions’ Club does is help the blind and needy,” said Lion Richard Robertson, party chairman. The Club gave out 12 bags of gifts to blind and visually impaired community members at the party.

Harvey Long Jr., 43, of Pinetops, said it made him “feel good” to receive the gift bag filled with fruit, popcorn and cookies. He attends the Christmas party every year with his mother, Lois. Long said he enjoyed the entertainment at the party – Christmas music and a comedy routine by Wayne Flora, founding pastor of the University Church of God in Greenville.

“He said that laughter is the best medicine, so he had everybody cracking up,” Long said. Robertson said Flora dressed as a “country hobo,” wearing a straw hat, and told jokes in a country accent.

Long’s positive attitude helps him overcome the challenges of daily life for a legally blind person.

“It’s very hard and frustrating. You just gotta have a good outlook on life that you just live one day to the next,” Long said. Adaptation has been a major part of Long’s life; his eyesight has worsened over the years and he has had to learn how to use a cane to navigate his surroundings. These days, he is learning computer skills.

“Once you learn the keys, you can pick it up. You have to have a good memory,” he said.

At the Christmas party, Long spoke about his experiences at the fishing tournament at Nags Head, which has an annual attendance of about 550 visually impaired and blind people. Long said the Lions Club pays a portion of the cost, while attendees pay $100 out of pocket.

“It means a whole lot to me. When camp [time] came around, I couldn’t wait until it was time to go,” Long said. “There’s a lot to do at camp.”

Fishing, putt-putt, shopping and tubing are among the activities for campers. During his first year of camp, Long said he was named “king of tubing,” although that summer marked his first tubing experience.

Other attendees at the Club’s Christmas party discussed their experiences at Camp Dogwood in Western North Carolina, a retreat for the deaf and the blind that includes horseback riding, crafts, dancing, boating, and other social activities. Kateaka McGee, coordinator of the North Carolina Services for the Blind in Tarboro, also spoke about the many services for the blind and visually impaired statewide.

Founded in 1917, the Lions Club is the largest public service organization in the world, with 1.35 million members and 46,000 clubs globally. In 1925, Helen Keller, a famous deaf and blind woman, addressed the Lions Club International Convention, urging the Lions to become “knights of the blind in the crusade against darkness.” Since then, the Lions have focused efforts on helping the blind and visually impaired.

The following is a list of some of the other free programs provided to those classified as “visually impaired” by Lions Cubs:

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