White Cane Day is a national observance, established by President Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The day is set aside to celebrate the many achievements of people who are blind and visually impaired, and their important symbol of independence, the white cane.
In previous years, we have held a procession of more than 100 blind and visually impaired Miamians walking with white canes and guide dogs, as well as, many sighted volunteers, beginning at 601 SW 8th Ave. and proceeding down 8th street and then back to Miami Lighthouse’s campus.
This year however, in keeping with the times and social distancing, we are going virtual. This is the one time of year we ask our grateful clients to give back to this remarkable place that many call their second home.
My name is Bernie Altmeier and I am originally from Bonn, Germany. I moved to the United States, and settled in Florida in the 1990s and am a professional boat captain and marine consultant.
Nearly two years ago in late summer in 2018, I developed a sudden severe deterioration to my eye nerve. In the process of diagnostics at Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the case manager recommended I contact Miami Lighthouse due to their great reputation for Counseling, training and integrating vision impaired and blind people into daily life and work.
Here, I was referred to Mrs. Corina Hernandez the Senior Case Manager, Mental Health and Rehabilitation Counselor. My special gratitude for everything she did to help me. I had an immediate interview for assessment and a tour of the facility, and was impressed with the courtesy, professionalism and proficiency off the staff. Everyone is treated the same and I soon learned that some off the staff are vision impaired/blind themselves.
Miami Lighthouse is the place where I can learn the skills and tools necessary to continue a professional and independent life. This was confirmed by observing teachers and students of all ages enthusiastically working and helping each other. Fortunately, when I toured we ended at lunch time in the cafeteria and I joined a happy crowd on break between classes. The camaraderie of this diverse group clearly showed that this is not only a school to learn life skills but a community as well.
I started classes in Orientation and Mobility to find my way safely around town, technology to use my phone, IPad and computer to stay connected without seeing the screen, independent living to handle daily chores and outreach to ensure a safe environment at home and of course visited the store with many of the items that are useful every day.
While everybody at Miami Lighthouse deserves credit for their help and encouragement for me to maintain my ability to continue to work as my eye sight changes, I would like to mention a few who I spend time in class with. Mrs. Corina Hernandez for setting me up with a schedule that flowed around my work days and monitored my progress, Ms. Judy Porro, with outreach and mobility to show me how to find my way and get around safely in my house, the technology team Mr. Mirna Garcia, Mr. Oseas De Leon, and Mr. Jorge Hernandez never tires of explaining how to solve simple or complex tasks on different devices and Ms. Barbara Del Pino for teaching me how to type, something that I couldn’t accomplish while I could see the letters on the keyboard.
As my learning continues, I am glad to give back a little by volunteering when I can.
I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to learn at Miami Lighthouse and stay focused through the new skills I now have and a new perspective on life.
Please make a gift to support me on White Cane Day by clicking the DONATE NOW button below. Your donation will help continue the many life affirming and transformational programs Miami Lighthouse offers.
Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2020 award for "Best in Nonprofit" campaign by PRWeek referred to as the "Oscars of the PR industry".
Miami Lighthouse ranks among the elite 1% of U.S. nonprofits having earned 12 consecutive 4-star ratings from Charity Navigator, the nation's premier independent nonprofit evaluator. Receiving such a distinction reflects our sound fiscal management, responsible use of donor dollars, and financial strength.
Miami Lighthouse has earned the Gold participation level through the GuideStar Exchange which is a testament to Miami Lighthouse's commitment to data transparency.
Early Intervention Blind Babies Program Named the Children's Trust 2016 Program of the Year. This most prestigious award recognizes this Early Intervention Program, in particular, for including parents as teachers.
Miami Lighthouse was recognized at the 2015 Florida Blue Foundation Sapphire Awards luncheon as an organization that has demonstrated excellence and innovation in community health.
Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2015 Beacon Award in Education at the 13th Annual Beacon Council Awards.
Miami Lighthouse is a two-time Charity Partner (2013 and 2014) of the Marlins Foundation and a 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game Legacy Partner. Our Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program has received over $300,000 in charitable donations through these partnerships.
Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious 2008 Concern Award from Health Foundation of South Florida.
Miami Lighthouse received a Silver medal at the 2016 Miami Today Gold Medal Awards Ceremony.
Miami Lighthouse named "Best of Miami" Charity 2017 by the New Times.
Miami Lighthouse received United Homecare's 2012 Thelma Gibson Community Service Award at the 18th Annual Claude Pepper Memorial Awards Ceremony.
Miami Lighthouse received the prestigious South Florida Business Journal 2011 Excellence in Health Care Award in the Community Outreach category.
Miami Lighthouse honored by being named the recipient of the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce 2010 Non-Profit Business Diamond Award.