A Bright North Shore Light: The Chicago Lighthouse Associate Board
Photography by Jim Prisching
Every child battles with a fever, a cold, a bout with the flu—all things to which a parent can relate. Not only can a parent make the child hopefully feel better, but they, too, have lived through it and can impart that it will not last forever. But what happens when the child is diagnosed with the incurable, and it profoundly changes the lives of every member of the family?
It is estimated that about one in 3,000 children are born blind each year, and even more with multiple sensory disabilities. The Chicago Lighthouse, a 105-year-old not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping and educating those who are blind or visually impaired, is fortunate enough to have ambassadors raising funds and spreading awareness right here on the North Shore. The Associate Board of The Chicago Lighthouse is celebrating 25 years in existence, and serves as the longest standing affinity group within the organization.
By raising funds through their annual (and popular!) springtime House and Garden Walk, and other small fund-raisers throughout the year, the influential group decided long ago to focus on babies and children with visual impairment and ways in which to enrich their lives regardless of their disability. The Board funnels its funds toward the Birth to Three Family Intervention Program, a course of aid within The Lighthouse’s many offerings.
Nina Mann, Highland Park resident and founding member of the Associate Board, remembers how she first became involved in such an important cause. “The Chicago Lighthouse was brought to my attention by my friend, Christine Bakalar,” Mann says. “Christine, who was a co-founder of the Associate Board, suggested we do the House and Garden Walk to benefit The Lighthouse. A close friend’s daughter was born blind and deaf and she was devastated with the diagnosis. The Birth to Three Program was a lifeline for her.”
The Birth to Three Program is a service provided to families with an infant or young child who has been diagnosed as blind or visually impaired. A therapist/teacher from The Lighthouse will go to the child’s home, and begin to work with them on the whole, by guiding every family member through the natural stages of development of their newest member. It is a part of the State of Illinois’ Early Intervention Program and teaches the child how to learn and thrive.
More than $1.4 million has been raised by the Associate Board in their 25 years. To commemorate their past and future, the Associate Board has put together a cookbook entitled Indulge, a collection of recipes from simple offerings from the House and Garden Walk events over the years. Mann says, “On the occasion of our 25th anniversary, we thought it was time to share these recipes, while raising more funds for the programs we support.”
For more information, or to purchase Indulge, visit chicagolighthouse.org.