White Cane Week assists the visually impaired

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published April 16, 2014

ROCHESTER — Over 21.2 million Americans have trouble seeing, and that number is on the rise, according to the National Federation of the Blind.

In an effort to assist the area’s visually impaired, members of the Rochester and Rochester Hills Lions clubs will be asking for monetary donations during White Cane Week April 25-May 4.

Rochester Lions White Cane Week Chairman Chris DeVilling said White Cane Week is a time the club designates specifically to raise money for Leader Dogs for the Blind, the group’s primary charity, along with other sight-related charities in the Rochester area.

Founded by three Detroit-area Lions Club members in 1939, Leader Dogs for the Blind provides guide dogs to people who are blind and visually impaired “to enhance their mobility, independence and quality of life.” The training school is located in Rochester Hills.

“The trio started their school in an old farmhouse where the present Leader Dogs location is and housed the first four dogs in a dilapidated barn,” DeVilling said. “Since 1939, they have matched dogs with over 14,000 sight-impaired people at no cost at all.”

In the hopes of raising funds for the visually impaired, Lions Club members will man the intersection of University and Main, as well as appear in various grocery stores, to collect donations from the public during White Cane Week. Members, wearing yellow vests and carrying white canes with containers attached to the end, can be found at Hollywood Market, at Rochester and Tienkin; Busch’s, at Adams and University; the Kroger at University and Livernoise; the Kroger at Adams and Silverbell, near the Rochester Post Office in downtown Rochester; and at Papa Joe’s, at Rochester and Tienken. Donators to the effort will receive a tag that can be hung from a purse or a car’s rear-view mirror to alert others of their gift.

In conjunction with White Cane Week, Papa Joe’s is hosting a spring wine and beer tasting to benefit the Rochester Lions Club, which will, in turn, donate the funds raised during the event to Leaders Dogs for the Blind. The event will be held 7-10 p.m. April 27 at LaSala Banquet and Event Center, 6840 N. Rochester Road. Tickets are $45 per person before the event or $50 at the door and include the tasting — featuring more than 100 varieties of wine and craft beer from around the world, as well as gourmet food. A 50/50 raffle and silent auction will also be featured.

“People will come in and they’ll receive a tasting sheet showing them what wines are at what particular table and where the beers are, and they will be able to wander through the different tables. I believe there will be 10-12 wine tables and several beer distributors there, along with a wide variety of gourmet food and cheese,” said Rochester Lions President Lowell Gladd. “We’ll also have the puppies up there that are in training, along with the trainers. … It’s a really, really special time.”

Nonperishable canned goods for local food pantries will also be collected at the door of the tasting.

“We’re trying to help out our local food pantries that are running low on food for the homeless and the needy, too,” Gladd said.