What is Low Vision?

February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration Awareness (ARMD) Month. ARMD is one of the primary causes of Low Vision, as is Glaucoma and other eye diseases. Low Visions is defined as a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in the best eye using correction. A “perfect” visual acuity is 20/20. So if your optometrist or ophthalmalogist is following and treating your ARMD or Glaucoma, why would you benefit from a Low Vision Exam?
Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania opened the Vision Rehab Center for Low Vision in April of 2012 and currently operates on Mondays where Dr. Heather Bourdeau sees patients with low vision who have specific vision goals such as reading a newspaper, writing checks, recognizing faces, etc.  The low vision examination is different from a stardard eye examination. It is often longer because it involves test procedures adapted for low vision. This exam is geared toward achieving the patient’s visual goal and in order to do so, the specialist must determine available functional vision by means of an extensive refraction. With this information, a possible eyeglass prescription and magnification devices, the vision goals are most often accomplished.

A patient in the Vision Rehab Center can expect to spend at least 1 1/2 hours with Dr. Bourdeau followed by hands on experimentation of the magnification devices with specialist, Mike Barry.  We also offer a necessity store carrying many simple problem solvers to enhance independance.  To learn more, call the Vision Rehab Center at 717-614-4018 and speak with Cheryl Cuddy, VRC Coordinator.

To learn more about ARMD , visit our website Resources tab.

The 12 Days of Christmas

The Holiday shopping season has begun. It is always difficult to think of creative gifts for everyone on your list.  Does your list include friends and family who are blind or visually impaired?  Maybe these 12 days of Christmas gift giving ideas can help:

On the 12th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

  • 12 sheets of Braille paper
  • 11 20/20 pens
  • 10 bingo cards (Braille or large print)
  • 9  large print puzzle books
  • 8  months of ZoomText
  • 7 pair of sock tuckers
  • 6 packs of bump dots
  • 5x power magnifier
  • 4 x13 playing cards, Braille or large print
  • 3 talking health aids (thermometer, blood pressure cuff and glucometer)
  • 2 large print check registers
  • and a brand new CCTV

If you need help finding these items or coming up with more gift ideas, visit our Necessity Store in the lobby or call Mike at 717-238-2531.  Happy Holidays from our family to your!

S__AFD4 Merry Christmas from Nitro!

November is American Diabetes Month

For some, the month of November can be referred to as “no shave November”, or possibly the beginning of the Holiday season, but at Vision Resources, November brings to mind Diabetes and how this disease that affects nearly 30 million Americans can also affect the health of their eyes. Individuals living with diabetes are at a greater risk to develop Glaucoma, Cataracts and Retinopathy.
Diabetics, and anyone for that matter, can take the following steps to avoid eye problems:
1. Controlled Blood Sugar. Keeping your blood sugar as close to the normal range as possible, greatly decreases your chances of developing retinopathy and takes away the temporary blurred vision that is also caused by high blood sugar levels.
2. Controlled Blood Pressure. High blood pressure can make eye problems worse.
3. Quit smoking. No explanation needed…
4. Routine Eye Exams. It is recommended that individuals with diabetes see an eye care professional at least once a year for a dilated eye exam. Only an optometrist and ophthalmologist can detect the signs of retinopathy and only an ophthalmologist can treat retinopathy.
5. Call your eye care professional if you experience any changes in your vision such as blurriness, double vision, pain or pressure in eyes, eyes are red, seeing spots or floaters or less peripheral vision.
As with any health concern, early detection is key to the successful management of eye disease. Vision Resources has literature available as well as resources to help with these issues. Please contact us at 717-238-2531.


Just over five years ago, Barack Obama was inaugurated our 44th President. Chrysler received a four billion dollar loan to try and prevent the automobile manufacturer from going bankrupt. Newcomer Lady GaGa had the number one hit on the music charts, Just Dance.

About that same time a community benefit organization named Tri-County Association for the Blind took residence in the agency’s newly refurbished building at 1130 South 19th Street in Harrisburg.

The location had been a well-known commercial operation, the Davis Beverage Group, started in 1968. Davis manufactured bottled and canned soft drinks and carbonated waters at this location, and still does at their new facility. Tri-County had been located on 2nd Street but the building size limitations and the neighborhood ripe with crime were enough reasons to precipitate the move when the property was offered for sale.

Today, the 1130 South 19th Street address still receives mail for Tri-County Association for the Blind, just as the Davis name still pops up from time to time in reference to the location. But now the name outside of the entrance is Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania.

Everyone associated with Vision Resources is understandably realistic that it will take a little time for the proverbial dust to settle on the old name, especially since it was adopted in 1943.

Since January 2013, Only the Name has Changed has become the organization’s positioning slogan. The agency plans to remain Vision Resources for a long time because the new name best describes who we are and what we do. Vision Resources enlarged its service and added Franklin County during the five years since the move. In 2012 a new Low-Vision Clinic for clients was added to the new facility. Expanding businesses opportunities and employment for individuals of disability, created even more facets to the non-profit that began 93 years ago. The name change made sense.

The past five years has been one of those periods where time has passed in what seems like an accelerated pace. Keeping busy finding new ways to be the premiere resource for blindness prevention services, and to maximize opportunities for individuals who are blind and visually impaired to maintain independence, is the organizational Vision. Five years from now Vision Resources will be busy planning its centennial celebration. You are invited to learn more about their mission and be a part of the first 100 years of making a difference for our region.

www.vrocp.org           (717)238-2531           1130 S. 19th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104-2912

Annual Appeal with Zeal


by Paul Zavinsky, Director of Development & Public Relations

Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania wishes you a happy holiday season!


It is during this season of giving we ask you to please remember our mission to raise the quality of life for the blind and visually impaired in our region. Together we can make a difference in the coming year and, if you are able to make a financial gift, we have a special thank you that will help even more in our community.

Vision Resources has partnered with a local knitting celebrity, Sheila Thurston, aka, “The Hat Lady.” In her spare time, and usually in coffeehouses, Sheila makes winter knit hats for men, women, boys, girls and even infants. Sheila creates and gives these away out of the goodness of her heart. The Hat Lady wanted to help Vision Resources with our Annual Appeal this year so she has donated 150 hats for our organization to use as an incentive for support from generous contributors.

Sheila and Vision Resources have agreed that for every $50 received from a donor, one handmade hat will be donated to the Catholic Charities Interfaith Family Shelter. Sheila is amazing and the multi-colored hats will provide the potential for Vision Resources to meet its financial goal. Just as important, many shelter residents will have a little protection from the cold and receive a small reminder that there are people that care. Annual gifts from contributors can perform two good deeds this year, so please, if you can, mail your tax-deductible donation to:

               VROCP, attn: Paul Zavinsky, 1130 South 19th Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104-2912

Or make a secure gift online at www.vrocp.org.

Thank you from Vision Resources, Sheila Thurston and the Interfaith Family Shelter.

Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania is a 501 (c) (3) non- profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The official registration and financial information of Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.


Summer Camp

“I enjoy the camp I go to very much!…It is such a great feeling to be around friends and with people who share common interests with me. It’s fun for everyone and a great way to relax, meet new friends, and to just hang out.  All in all, camps are just fantastic.”

“Going to camp every year is a big highlight of my summer vacation. For four to five days of a set week during the summer, kids of varying ages congregate and engage in numerous exciting and fun-filled activities… Between making friends, having fun and just getting a chance to relax, camp is a great way to spend a week of one’s summer.”

These two accounts of summer camp experiences are quite similar and were both written by 16 year old boys. It appears both boys enjoy their time at summer camp by making friends, relaxing and having fun.   Are they attending the same camp?

The first account was written by Trevor, who annually attends boy scout summer camps.  The second was written by Lucas who attends Vision Resources summer camp for students who are legally blind.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the camps at Vision Resources of Central Pennsylvania. The program is run by Nancy Altemose, Director of Services at Vision Resources. The main purpose of our camps is to expose students, who are legally blind, to developmental and sensory activities that encourage them to push their comfort boundaries in the context of fun.  One original camper is now a college graduate who did not forget us and volunteers as a part time receptionist.

Vision Resources 2013 Teen camp hosted 7 campers, including Lucas, who spent time at Little Buffalo State Park, swimming, hiking and barbecuing. They took a CPR/First Aid/AED class, visited Chocolate World, attended a movie with descriptive audio and much more. Our Kids Camp hosted 5 campers who enjoyed experiences at Wilbur Chocolate, Sturgis Pretzels, Bounce U, Little Buffalo, Verdant View Farms and camping.

Summer camps have long provided children with a safe, fun environment and an opportunity to try new things and make new friends.  Vision Resources is proud to offer our campers the same experience, as opposed to a different one.DSC03033 DSC02939 DSC02954 DSC02973


“Music Heals” – Jose Feliciano

On Saturday, August 3, 2013, Jose Feliciano performed at the Forum in Harrisburg, as part of his World Tour 2013, with special guest, Amaryllis Santiago, a local recording artist. Upon seeing an ad for the concert in a local newspaper, Vision Resources Development Director, Paul Zavinsky, contacted Amaryllis in an effort to learn more. The call resulted in VIP passes for some of our Board Members and Executive Director, as well as an opportunity for one of us to attend the press conference the same afternoon. Paul, being a musician himself, was crushed that he would be out of town and unable to participate in either activity, but personally, I was thrilled at the opportunity to attend the press conference myself, and bring my 17 year old son, Brett, who wishes to pursue music in college next year.
What comes to mind when you hear the name Jose Feliciano? Latin…Feliz Navidad…Grammy Award winner…blind man? I did my research on this man and was beyond impressed. Several bios, press releases, Wikipedia and more all gave an account of his 50 year career full accomplishments and awards. He broke through barriers as a young man, bridging the musical gap between the Latin and English speaking cultures, opening doors for others who hoped to pursue a similar path. I learned of his 17 Grammy Nominations and 9 Grammy Awards as well as the Laras Lifetime Achievement Award. Jose has been inducted into the Guitar Player Magazine’s Gallery of the Greats and also received Billboard Magazine’s Lifetime Achievement Award. As of 2013, a star on the Hollywood Boulevard also bears his name. Not to be single minded, but where in all of this information was the part about his struggles due to being born blind from congenital glaucoma?
As I waited for the press conference to begin, I watched reporters and photographers take their places. Accompanied by his sighted guide, his wife of 31 years, Jose Feliciano made his way in to the room. He welcomed us with kindness and humor, and began taking questions systematically from one end of the room to the other. It was difficult to tell if anyone else was touching on the subject of his sight as about 75% of the questions and answers were spoken in Spanish, (so much for my 4 years of French in high school and 4 years of German for Brett), but from a word here or there that I was able to follow, every questions was about his tour, latest works and the Latin Community. The event was running 25 minutes longer than planned and I was sitting at the last table to be addressed, but finally it was my turn. I introduced myself and Vision Resources briefly, then asked, “Mr. Feliciano, clients come through our doors everyday with goals and dreams they feel cannot be fulfilled due to their visual impairment. What advice would you offer them?” “It’s not true”, was his response. Waiting and hoping there was more, he added, “the sighted community can help us be more sighted. Why aren’t there Braille labels on my vitamin bottle and other items at the grocery store?” Rather speechless, I thanked him for the reply. I suppose it hadn’t occurred to Jose Feliciano that his blindness would limit his success. Why had that occurred to me? I work for an agency that supports and promotes independence and opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
A tour representative stood and said, “well if there are no further questions…”. Then the male voice next to me spoke up, “Mr. Feliciano, you are quoted as saying, ‘music heals’, I am interested in studying Music Therapy in college. Do you really believe that music can heal the mind and body?” He smiled, “I believe it does, it helped me as a kid. I listened to Ray Charles and other singers all the time. Music is very therapeutic, most definitely it heals.”

Cheryl Cuddy, Special Events Coordinator


Brett and I on route to the press conference

Jose Feliciano and Amaryllis Santiago answer questions