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Meet Our Clients

Perry DavisMaybe it's because he eats little red meat, maybe it’s because he enjoys a cocktail every day or maybe it’s just the luck of the draw, but Perry Davis turned 100 on December 15, 2012.

"I have no explanation for living this long, though I am almost a vegetarian. And I do have a highball every day," says Perry, who lives in Oakley. Married three times, Perry has lost all three wives.

A native of Tennessee and a Navy veteran of World War II, Perry’s vision has grown progressively worse since a diagnosis in 1980 of macular degeneration. He had to quit driving in 2000. "I can still see a little," he says, "and I am managing it." At the Lions Center, Perry enjoys the arts and crafts classes but says because his hip gives him trouble, he doesn’t bowl any more.

With the help of a special reading device and a lighted magnifying glass from the Lions Center, Perry always works the crossword puzzle in USA Today. "They are really hard," he says. "I also listen to classical music and I am a baseball nut, a Giants fan."

 

Tim Carroll with Pittsburg Adult School teacher Hallie Leta-PomboBlind since birth, Tim Carol has no trouble seeing how to make the world a better place. Among friends, he encourages discussions on the news of the day, including world events. Closer to home, he hopes to broaden the food choices at the Lions Center.

"I am trying to encourage healthier snacks," says Tim, 61. "We have muffins and cookies, and I plan to bring in a few other items we can share. I have been on a gluten-free diet for five years, and I am concerned about health."

Tim lives in Martinez. Born prematurely in Berkeley, he suffered retrolental fibroplasia after receiving excessive oxygen that destroyed his retina. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from San Francisco State University.

"Unfortunately, I didn’t find a job in that field, but I worked as a darkroom technician at a veteran’s hospital for nine years," Tim says. He is now retired.

Tim attends arts and crafts classes at the Lions Center and goes on field trips. He especially enjoys bowling. Tim has high praise for Michael Mailer, the low vision specialist at the Center, and he also has kind words for the volunteers.

 

Veronica with Pittsburg Adult Education Center ceramics instructor Fred TurnerAfter surgery for a brain tumor, Veronica Villa had chemotherapy and radiation treatments, which affected her optical nerve. “The doctors gave me 120 weeks to live, and told me to tighten up any loose ends and prepare for death,” recalls Veronica.

That was 17 years ago.

“I told myself ‘I have children, I have family and I have things to do -- there is no time for me to die,’” says Veronica, 53. “My life is very rewarding.”

Veronica is a client at the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired (LCVI) and she has also served on the Board of Directors for the past year.  She lives with her husband, Chris, in Concord. They have two grown children.

“After the surgery, I started working on the family tree and made sure names and dates were correct on the back of our pictures,” recalls Veronica. “At the time I had a daughter in kindergarten and a son in second grade.” She also retired from her job as a physical education specialist.

Over time, Veronica’s vision became weaker. “When you can’t see, you find yourself living a completely different life, and it’s so darn depressing,” Veronica says. “Still, you have to get yourself up and out.”

Veronica did just that.

She attends programs at the Lions Center two days a week, taking part in a cooking and nutrition class and also arts and crafts programs. “The programs make you think and they make you feel good,” says Veronica. “The volunteers are very encouraging, and tell us we do beautiful work, though I’m not sure that’s the truth.”

At LCVI board meetings, Veronica reports news from the Center’s programs, learns how funds will be allotted and passes on suggestions from program participants.

Veronica emphasizes how much she enjoys the company at the Lions Center programs. “When you lose your vision, old friends treat you like you are on the edge of death or else they become overly helpful,” she says.

“When you spend time with other blind people, those friendships have no catches, and we all care about each other. It opens up a whole new world.”

 

Mac singing at LCVIMac Coates brings his considerable people skills to the Lions Center for the Visually Impaired, speaking informally with people struggling with the loss of vision or new to the Center.

“I enjoy interacting with people, sharing histories, listening to their experiences,” says Mac. “I try to draw people out during our social time at the programs.”

In addition to taking part in programs at the Center, Mac has served on the Board of Directors since 2009. A former special education teacher’s aide and a longtime cook in Los Angeles, Mac lives in Pittsburg. He has three grown daughters and three grandsons.

"When I moved here in 2008, I was looking for somewhere to go, something to do, in this area,” recalls Mac, 61. When he visited the Center, he liked it immediately. He attends cooking and nutrition classes, exercise sessions, arts and crafts programs and meets with a mobility instructor from time to time.

“The mobility instructor will walk with you in the neighborhood and show you the safest routes and also help you at the grocery,” says Mac, who lost his sight at 38 due to retinitis pigmentosa, a progressive disease. “I make good use of all the independent skills I have learned at the Lions Center.”

Mac also enjoys the Center’s field trips, including farm visits, music concerts and outings in San Francisco. “One day on a cable car, one of our board members started singing ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco.’ I won’t tell you who it was,” says Mac in a teasing tone, “but everyone started applauding.” He laughs.

Mac’s singing has garnered applause in other venues as well. He sings for weddings and once a month, he leads a song service at a church in Antioch, where he also teaches Bible studies to children.

A big fan of Ed Schroth, the executive director at the Center, Mac also has kind words for the Lions volunteers. “They make us all feel loved. Sometimes someone will ask me why I am always so happy, so positive,” says Mac. He laughs loud and long.

“I always say it’s because I’m still here.”