"What Is Essential Is Invisible to The Eye": A Visit from Miss Mississippi

As a champion of low-vision initiatives around the state, Miss Mississippi Marie Wicks gladly came to tour Mississippi Industries for the Blind today to get a better understanding of all the different opportunities we provide for the visually impaired.
MIB president Mike Chew shows Marie Wicks the newly opened Low Vision Store at MIB.*
When asked how she became involved in low vision awareness, Marie said, “Personally I am very nearsighted, and upon getting my first pair of glasses in fifth grade, I was finally made aware of the things I couldn’t see before.”  Years later, after realizing the vast potential for others in Mississippi to receive the same kind of vision help she had as a girl, she became involved with the Lions Club, an organization devoted to raising funds and awareness for low-vision causes around the state.  All of Marie’s early involvement in the eye health field really stuck with her, eventually leading her to become president of the University Lions Club at Ole Miss for two years while pursuing her International Studies and French degrees and Chemistry minor.  Upon becoming a contestant for Miss Mississippi, she was then able to adopt Eyesight To All Regions (eyeS.T.A.R.) as her philanthropic platform, through which she has organized free vision screenings and raised funds for the Lions Club.
Marie observes an MIB employee sewing a military-grade product called a Low Cost Container, or LCC.*

“As president of the Lions Club and with eyeS.T.A.R. as my platform, I was able to arrange for the eye screening machines to come to Oxford.  Faculty and students from Ole Miss, as well as residents of the community, received this free eye-health service, through which we could then refer them to a doctor if they needed it,” Marie said.
She has even organized several vision screenings on the Gulf Coast, where she is from, for children of all ages.  During her year of service as Miss Mississippi, Marie is traveling around the state to raise awareness for vision initiatives and to promote her platform along with the national platform of Miss America, the Children’s Miracle Network.
Marie visiting with a worker in the MIB sponge department.*
After completing the tour around our facility, Marie couldn’t help but feel inspired.  ”I never realized the extent of what is available through Mississippi Industries for the Blind.  There is such a variety of products, and [the employees] are so skilled at what they do that there’s no way you could tell that they’re visually impaired.  They’re also very optimistic and gracious.”  Their happiness reminds her, she says, of her favorite quote from the French children’s story, “Le Petit Prince,” or “The Little Prince”:  ”What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

It’s her hope that more opportunities like those provided by MIB will be available to others struggling with low-vision.
Thanks for visiting with us, Marie!  We enjoyed showing you what we do.*
*A special thanks to Paul Wolf from Find It In Fondren for all the photos in this post!  Thanks for all you do, Paul.

Low Vision Support Group

Dear Readers,

Intended to better serve the local community in low vision awareness, we have coordinated with our friends at Low Vision Etc. to provide the public with information on low vision issues, adaptive aids & products, and other vital resources!  If you or someone you know have low vision, or are struggling with Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy, or other eye diseases, then please join Low Vision, Etc. and Mississippi Industries for the Blind in finding solutions through our first Low Vision Support Group meeting and low vision technology demonstrations on Tuesday, February 19th!

Low Vision, Etc. provides personal attention for the visually impaired. Their company is built around helping the low vision client find the key to staying independent in the home, school or workplace.  Located in Monroe, LA and specializing in adaptive, digital technologies, such as CC TVs and hand-held magnification devices, Low Vision Etc. is a leader in providing low vision resources throughout Louisiana.  And we are very excited to be co-hosting this event with them!

We plan to meet at 10AM to open group discussion on low vision issues, giving the attendees a time to share their experiences with one another.  In turn, we will give the appropriate advice and information on how to address said issues, and we will show various low vision aids that assist in all aspects of daily living.

If you are interested in attending this event, please call Kelsey Marx or Roy Granger at 601-984-3200 for more details.  Feel free to bring a friend or family member to this support group meeting and low vision technology demo!

Open House Low Vision Technology Fair

Dear Readers,

Last week’s event was a SUCCESS!  

Low Vision Etc. owners Kathy Foster and and Janet Bernhardt from Monroe, Louisiana coordinated a FREE Open House Low-Vision Technology Fair at MIB in which we all could showcase and demonstrate different types of aids and appliances to assist with low vision needs.  Low Vision Etc. works specifically to bring high-tech low-vision products, such as CCTVs and other electronic magnifying devices, to areas in need throughout the South East.  We were very lucky to have such dedicated associates organizing such a wonderful event!

In conjunction with the Open House, Mississippi Industries for the Blind also opened their new Low Vision Store to the public!  The store stocks items such as LED Magnifiers, Talking Watches, Canes, Specialized Cooking Utensils, among a variety of others!  MIB is also hoping to organize a volunteer program in which full-time and part-time volunteers can run the store!

We are so grateful to everyone who helped and attended this event.  It was the first of its kind at our facility, but we hope to host many more like it!
Latoya welcomes YOU to the MIB Low Vision Store!

MIB stocks all sorts of Low Vision Aids & Appliances.  Here you can see Canes, Talking Watches & Clocks, Magnifiers, Monocular Scopes, and Braille Board Games such as Bingo & Scrabble!
Large waves of visitors made their way through the MIB Low Vision Store, Low Vision Etc.’s demo room, and the refreshments area last Wednesday between 9am-12pm!

Tracy, Kathy, Janet, Mike, and Roy pose for a photo in between crowd surges.

Roy Granger & former Jackson City Council member, Louis Armstrong, pose for a photo in the Low Vision showcase room.

Janet demonstrates a CCTV to a visitor.  Not only does the screen enlarge the print of the paper below, but it also can change the contrast or color to suit the needs of the reader!  Very impressive.

Our Open House attendees snack and visit after exploring the Low Vision Aids and Appliances Store & Demo!

Roy, Connie, Janet, Kathy, Carolyn, Latoya, Chris, Joyce, and Kelsey all wait to hear the winners of the raffle for the Mini Pebble–a hand-held, electronic, magnifying device!