Organization Asks Public To Help The Blind - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/15/03

Organization Asks Public To Help The Blind

An organization dedicated to advocating the rights of blind people wants to make a positive impact locally. The National Federation of the Blind is in the process of rebuilding its Gulf Coast chapter. Officials are asking for the public's support to help those in need. The N.F.B. estimates that there are 1.1 million blind people living in the United States. Each year another 50,000 lose their sight.

One coast family who's made helping blind people one of their missions in life, because they know first hand how hard life can be when you can't see.

Esther Welch's family shares Sunday dinners ...and a trait for vision problems. She said genetics have cost her most of her eyesight and made her son John legally blind.

"I have had three detached retinas in my left eye and I've lost my sight completely in that and then had two in my right eye," said Welch. "I'm lucky I have what I have to see with now."

John Erickson said, "You get used to seeing out of two eyes and you can only see out of one and I don't see on one side. You could stand beside me and I wouldn't see you."

Not long after becoming a member of the family, John's wife, Janet became an advocate for the disabled. She works with the National Federation of the Blind. The organization provides legal services and gives visually impaired people information on how to get a hold of the new technologies that will enhance their lives.

"They're in a dark world," said Janet."They don't know anything that is going on around them. Everything's coming out everyday to help those people."

John can only drive during the day and Esther had to give up a career as a seamstress, but both mother and son say they're focusing on the positive.

"Well, it's not easy, you've lost so much that you remembered and I just thank the good Lord day and night that I have what I got," said Welch.

The Gulf Coast Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind is hoping people will support them at their fundraiser next week. On Saturday, June 21st members will sell spaghetti lunches. If you're interested stop by the recreation building at the Village Apartments on 34 street in Gulfport starting at 11 a.m. The lunch is $5 and includes salad and bread.

by Danielle Thomas

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