Center seeks group to provide meals

Published 9:15 pm Friday, January 8, 2016

The Blind Center of Washington is actively looking for volunteers to aid in providing meals to its clients.

Pamlico Plantation resident Mary Madden, who passed away last week, had assumed a volunteer role of providing meals to clients at the center, Monday through Thursday, for the past 20 years or so, according to Katie Lake, a member of the center’s board of directors and a 17-year-volunteer.

Now, the center is in need of a church group, civic organization or other group to fill that void in services, according to Chip Laughinghouse, executive director of the center. The center hosts clients each weekday except Friday, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., during which time a group that is looking for a service project to do in the community could come in and bring, prepare and serve food.

“What’s been done in the past is churches and other organizations have brought (food) in prepared,” Laughinghouse said. “But we’re willing to change to accommodate other ideas. (Mary Madden) took it upon herself to provide lunches for our clients, and that’s basically where our problem is. We don’t have any partners to provide meals to our clients during the day.”

Laughinghouse said the center serves about 15 clients, who are either completely blind or very limited in their sight. At the center, clients are given instruction on life skills such as using appliances in the kitchen, learning how to get around a room safely, how to sew and how to use their senses to aid them in living, among others.

The clients also make crafts that are sold in an on-site gift shop, with proceeds going toward funding programs and services at the center.

“The program serves the clients where they can come in and be taught life skills, and they are also taught crafts,” Laughinghouse said. “It gets them out of the house, and it keeps them socially active. By learning how to do these things and crafts with their hands, it’s stimulating, but it’s also giving them a purpose where they do come out and look forward to it and take ownership of the Blind Center. What they’re making is actually being sold to benefit them. (Residents) are purchasing (items) from someone in the Washington community who have a disability.”

The center also provides others, who are visually impaired, with eyeglasses that can’t afford it, Laughinghouse said. A social worker is on-site at the center to assess the needs of clients, as well as those in the community, who are blind and visually impaired, Laughinghouse said.

“We’re just stressing the need for the community to come together and help us with lunches,” Laughinghouse said. “We’re trying not to take money out of our general fund to do this. There’s not another blind center like us in the entire state so we have to be careful about how we spend our money. Having lunches provided for so long, we’ve always been lucky enough to benefit the clients in other ways. This is a project where (groups and organizations) could help their neighbors—someone here in Beaufort County.”

For more information about the Blind Center of Washington or to volunteer, call Chip Laughinghouse at 252-375-7588.