The Port Washington (PW) Lions Club recently matched a $5,000 grant from the New York State Bermuda Lions Foundation to total a $10,000 grant, which the organizations presented to the Helen Keller National Center (HKNC) on Dec. 17.
“It’s important because the lions club is a giving organization; that’s all we do,” said past president of the PW Lions Stephanie Teff, who initiated the grant process. “We try to get money in through fundraisers and give every dollar of it out for charitable reasons. This was special. Getting a grant is special. The Lions had used blindness as a cause to be since the foundation. It was Helen Keller herself who initially called upon the Lions to get involved, so that’s how the relationship started in the ’30s I think.”
“We have affiliation with Helen Keller and we’ve had a few fundraisers and raised money for the organization in the past,” said president of the PW Lions Jim Contino. “It’s been a project for the Lions since the beginning.”
The grant will be used toward new computers and equipment for the Adaptive Technology Center, which provides evaluation and training in computer programs, assistive technologies, portable devices and adaptive hardware and software for individuals who are deaf-blind.
“Thank you for the support you’ve given us for the technology,” said executive director of HKNC Sue Ruzenski. “We were really stumbling along with our equipment. It just makes a world of difference.”
“Technology is something that’s really important and I think key for independence for the people we serve—both the blind and deaf-blind,” said Helen Keller Services president and CEO Joe Bruno.
Ruzenski explained that once HKNC heard the grant was approved, they purchased the new computers because they were in such desperate need. Senior instructor of adaptive technology Don Horvath said that the old computers would have glitches and didn’t have enough hardware space or memory to allow for the needed programs.
“We’re thankful we have working computers,” said Horvath. “It really supports another department, the Communication Learning Center, because in essence we’re all using technology now to communicate information.”