No. 799



If you have ever been in a completely dark room, where you could not see your hand in front of your face, then you will understand and appreciate what I want to share with you in this column.
While writing this column, over the past 15-plus years, I have mentioned several times that I am a member of the Conway Noon Lions Club. The mission of our club, plus more than 44,000 other clubs around the world, is to help the blind and visually impaired. Our club has some great meetings, some great speakers and a several fund-raising events each year to raise the money to support a number of sight-related projects. All of our members understand our mission and what we are doing to help the blind. However, unless we have the opportunity to actually “see” and experience the life that blind people live, day after day, there is no way for even our best and most faithful members to be emotionally involved. I might add that this is the deepest motivation of all -- to put ourselves in someone else’s skin or shoes.
This fact was really brought home to me several months ago when a number of our Lions visited the Lions World Services for the Blind in Little Rock. This is a world-class facility dedicated to training the blind and visually impaired to be able to function independently and to live full productive lives with dignity and self-respect. Since it was founded in 1939, LWSB has become the largest and most comprehensive rehabilitation center in the world, serving more than 9,500 people from 50 states and 58 other countries. I might add that the vast majority of people in our state, and even in central Arkansas, do not know we have this facility right here at home.
The day we were there, Dan Noble, public relations director at LWSB, gave us a tour of the campus, which included visiting a number of training stations where a sighted instructor was teaching various skills to totally blind and partially blind students. The center provides counseling services, personal adjustment training, pre-vocational training, and vocational training in 13 career areas ranging from computer programming to small engine repair. Trainees are given guidance through the often traumatic, emotional adjustment to blindness and taught techniques for daily living, communications and mobility so they can care for themselves and travel independently. The trainees are also given the opportunity to learn valuable job skills so they can function efficiently and competitively in the work place.
In looking back on our trip to LWSB, I think the thing that impacted me the most was when we had lunch in their cafeteria. As I was sitting there eating at one of the long tables with a number of my fellow Lions, all whom had their sight, the trainees began to come in for lunch. They were all totally blind, or had greatly impaired vision, and I saw more blind people at one time than I had ever seen in my life. You could easily spot those who had only been there a short period of time. They came down the line, guided by their white cane, and when they came to the wall where they had to make a right turn, you could tell it was awkward for them.
It was at this point I realized what it must be like to live in a totally dark world. I was grateful that I was blessed with my sight and it had a very emotional impact on me. Should you want to learn more about this world-class facility, visit their web site:
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.)