Vision Rehabilitation Services of Georgia extends a big “THANK YOU” to Whitefield Academy and the great work completed at the office this past Saturday, August 26th. Whitfield Academy students and parents revamped the flower beds are VRS entrance as part of their Great Day of Service.
On Tuesday, July 25, 2017, the Transition Academy was hosted by MUST Ministries’ Marietta location. Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Wayne Williams, MUST “…addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties.” MUST’s mission is “Serving our neighbors in need… transforming lives and communities in response to Christ’s call.” Being a volunteer-driven organization, the Transition Academy was able to volunteer while simultaneously learning about job tasks, running a non-profit organization, meeting deadlines, and much more. It was a great way to end the summer academy and a wonderful location to hold the Transition Academy Graduation.
The morning kicked off with the members of the Transition Academy introducing themselves to our hosts (the Program Team), by giving a brief spontaneous Eye Statement to describe how their visual impairment works. For instance, Alsu explained to the Program Team that having Septo-optic dysplasia, means that she sees best in dimly lit environments. Afterwards, the Program Team responded to our introductions by telling the TA participants about the history of MUST Ministries, before outlining some of their own daily job duties.
Kelly supervises the people who work at MUST Ministries as part of their community service. Usually, Kelly and her team handle the janitorial and house-keeping tasks for MUST Ministries, but they also keep the food pantry stocked. Chuck oversees the Thrift Store, which provides a source of revenue for all of MUST Ministries’ programs. Francis, the program director, shared MUST Ministries is a 46-year-old faith-based organization, whose mission is to serve their neighbors in need by providing both impoverished families and individuals with the goods and services they need.
The Transition Academy group broke into several small teams to aid the employees of MUST Ministries by stocking the shelves, handing out food in the pantry, and organizing the Thrift Store (among other things). For example, Brittany, Ayesha, and Skylar took turns steaming the children’s clothes and hanging them on a cart. Then, after the clothes had been steamed, Maggie and Gabby would take the cart to the thrift store. At the thrift store, Chuck showed them how to organize the clothes, for ease of shopper,s based on gender and size from infant through adult. Many volunteer hours are helpful in the store to keep it organized and stocked.
Josh Marks was interviewed for this week’s Transition Academy blog post. Josh is currently a rising Junior at Lassiter High School, in Marietta, Georgia. Josh’s preferred method of learning is through using a combination of audio and visual sensory input. After graduating high school, Josh hopes to major in Sports Medicine at Kennesaw State University. This would be an ideal situation, because one of Josh’s main interests is playing baseball.
Later, in honor of our final class, the Transition Academy volunteers and members had a graduation celebration complete with cake! Each student also received a graduation certificate to signify that they had successfully completed the course.
The afternoon was spent rotating through additional work stations. TA participants unpacked donated work shirts, re-stacked donation boxes, re-stocked the food pantry and unloaded donations for the MUST summer lunch program. In addition, a small group met with Linda Newman, past VRS Board Chair, to discuss strategies for preparing for the Math part of the SAT. VRS is planning to host monthly test prep classes should program participants need additional support in this area.
During the last few minutes of our visit to MUST Ministries, the Program Team thanked every member of the Transition Academy for the volunteer help they provided and the tasks they accomplished. Feedback was shared regarding things learned by both sides. Class members were asked to stay-tuned for Next Step Prep activities throughout the school year. As program participants prepared to leave MUST gave everyone a Gobble Jog T-Shirt to show their appreciation for all our hard work. A reminder was provided to the TA group that a good training 5K in order to be ready for this year’s Gobble Jog is to participate in VRS’ 9th annual Spooktacular Chase in October!
On Tuesday, July 11, 2017, the Transition Academy (“TA”) visited an assisted living & memory care community in Smyrna, Provident Village at Creekside, and a local entrepreneur’s privately-owned framing business, Annie Frame Will Do. The goals of the visits were to understand the various jobs and career opportunities available and practice the informational interview skills taught in TA. By visiting a corporately structured entity and a privately owned & operated business on the same day, TA participants could compare and contrast different business approaches, skill sets required, risks, time commitments and rewards.
At Provident Village, following opening remarks, each TA member introduced themselves to the staff by discussing the details of their unique eye conditions and asking informational interview questions. Through this question and answer period students were able to find out more about how an assisted living facility is operated.
The TA spoke with Allison Mosely and Carrie Chau, who are members of Provident’s sales and marketing team. Their job is to introduce potential residents to the Provident community. Through organized special events and personalized appointments, Allison & Carrie get potential residents and their families excited about undergoing a lifestyle change and moving into Provident Village. According to Carrie, Provident offers seniors a wide range of services. These include cooking/dining, housekeeping, transportation, and entertaining social activities. A key point is the residents of Provident retain the ability to make their own decisions about what they eat and how active a life they lead. The sole exception to this rule concerns residents in the memory care area of the community who have a history of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and move into Provident Village specifically for a secure, structured, care taking environment.
The class also met Provident Village’s business manager (Natasha) who manages the community’s budget, processes paperwork for the new residents, bills the residents, and performs human resource duties for all the employees. Once the explanations were finished, Natasha led the TA group on a tour of the building. We saw many exciting sights such as the residential dining rooms, the library, and an entertainment center where the residents could watch movies and eat popcorn. In addition, the executive director (Elaine Austin) showed us the memory care unit. We did not enter this secure area as it is locked & contains many alarms to prevent patients from accidentally wandering out of the building or becoming lost. Other staff members who shared details of their positions and what it takes to keep Provident running efficiently and effectively included Nikki at the reception desk and front door; Carla from housekeeping; Penny the Activities Director; and Asia who is one of multiple chefs.
After lunch, the TA group bid the staff of Provident goodbye and rode to visit Ann Chamblee, a local entreprenuer. Today, Ann runs her business from the basement of her house and averages a six day per week, ten-hour work day. However, she used to be a business manager for the army. While working for the army in Texas, Ann ran an arts and crafts center where she fell in love with framing. So, after moving to Georgia, Ann started a business of her own, Annie Frame Will Do.
Ann was very forthcoming with information when asked about how she creates frames, stocks inventory, and gains business. She shared details about tracking the business expenses, planning for meeting deadlines, and how to create pricing structures. The take away was the fact there is a lot to do when running your own business.
Ann’s business specializes in picture framing and frame repair, but she has recently begun printing t-shirts as well. The best part of the visit for most was getting the opportunity to see Ann create our Transition Academy t-shirts in her workshop using a fabric printer, a computer, and an iron. She utilized the TA logo designed a few weeks back at the beginning of TA. Annie was extremely generous so as to let us have the t-shirts free of charge.
All in all, the Transition Academy had a very full day and learned a lot. We truly appreciate the support of these two businesses and the time spent with the class.
On Tuesday, June 06, 2017, VRS began holding its first annual Transition Academy. The purpose of the Transition Academy is to teach the participants various skills that they can apply both in their daily lives and in the workplace. Not limited to any age group or region, the Transition Academy teaches students from all over the Metro Atlanta area. From middle school and high school, to college and beyond, anyone with a visual impairment is welcome.
To begin, the participants gave a short introduction which told the other students their names and passions. Then they explored their own personal learning styles by taking a test that links personality traits with colors; these colors, in turn, correspond to a learning style. Afterwards, the participants divided into groups tasked with learning and performing various tasks that are important, both in the workplace and in daily life.
In the kitchen Rafa, Gabriel, and Xavier were tasked with preparing lunch for the class; a teacher gave the boys instructions, while Gabby and Karly wrote down food orders from the other participants and delivered them to the kitchen. Meanwhile, Gus and William were taught how to clean using their sense of touch and the reliable grid pattern. Next, they went outside to wash the windows with vinegar. After a demonstration to Cheyla and Maggie how to fold t-shirts, which is a skill that -in addition to being vital in the workplace- can be applied while doing laundry or organizing clothes at home. The folding team will also get to use their skills by volunteering at the Must Ministries shop in the coming weeks.
Finally, the reporters (Heidi, Jason, and Skylar), and authors of the Academy’s Blog, kept track of the class by taking notes and participating in the different activities. Then they selected Augustu “Gus” Pacleb as the student of the week, and Jason interviewed him. Gus attends Forsyth Central High School and, just like Heidi, he found out that his learning styles correspond to both the blue (harmonious) and green (logical) learning styles. Overall, Gus thought that his scores were accurate and he hopes that this new insight into his personality will allow him to find a job that suits his learning style, while also enabling him to work well with his future colleagues.
Ultra-violet (UV) rays can damage your eyes and increase your risk of cataracts and cancers of the eye. Because UV rays can be permanently harmful, sunglasses with UV protection are recommended for everyone, but especially for those that work outside or already have existing eye problems.
While many have heard of the dangers of skin cancer, few people know that various skin cancers (basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinomas, melanomas) can occur on the eyelids, on the surface of the eye and even inside of the eye. In fact, 5-10% of skin cancer affects the eyelids. Our eyes are the only internal tissue of our body that are exposed to sunlight. Without proper sunglasses, nearly 40% of the rays get into our eyes even when we’re not directly exposed. Ocular melanoma cancer is the most common type of eye cancer in adults and can cause permanent vision loss. Around 94% of people are affected with premature aging signs near the eye regions. This is also caused by exposure to intense sun rays that make your skin dry. This affects the skin texture and makes it more prone to get wrinkles and fine lines.
For these reasons, it is essential to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays by regularly wearing protective sunglasses. Sunglasses should be 100% UV-absorbent for UVA and UVB or be labeled UV400. To provide additional UV protection, also wear a wide-brimmed hat, especially when during the mid-day sun or if you will be outdoors for a prolonged period of time.
Remember, prolonged UV exposure can occur outside, but also in tanning beds. People who are fair-skinned, Caucasians, have light-colored eyes, smoke, or have had a family history of skin cancer are particularly at risk and sensitive to UV rays.
Parents should also be extra cautious with their children’s activities such as swimming or skiing because the sun is reflected off the water, snow, or ice and heavy UV exposure can occur without even realizing it.
Regular dilated eye exams, especially in high risk patients, can provide early warnings, diagnosis, and treatment of the aforementioned eye diseases and prevent or treat these eye diseases related to UV exposure.
For more information check out: Think About Your Eyes
With summer approaching, many people will be outside more often and involved in athletic activities which require extra eye protection, and the topic of Sports Eye Safety. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the number of sports-related eye injuries in emergency rooms across the U.S. has significantly increased, with over 30,000 incidents per year!
While all sports involve an increased risk of eye injury, basketball, baseball, and air/paintball guns have the highest risk. Injuries can range from less threatening problems like minor corneal abrasions or bruises on the eye to vision-threatening internal injuries such as bleeding or retinal detachment. Sports-related eye injuries are avoidable with the proper protective eye wear.
Check with your coach or your child’s coach for details on the appropriate eyewear needed. For example, athletes playing basketball, racquet sports, soccer and field hockey should wear protective eyewear with poly-carbonate lenses.
Athletes who wear contacts or glasses should also wear appropriate protective eyewear. Contacts offer no protection and glasses do not provide enough defense. Also replace eye wear when it becomes weakened or yellowed as all products do with age. Finally, as always, whenever you plan to be outside in the sunlight, be sure to wear good sunglasses or glare control shades to protect your eyes from exposure to the sun.