Dining in the Dark Returns

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An eagle catches a fish at last year's Eagle Watch.
Contributing Writer

Joni Blackman

Dining in the Dark is CBA Vision Rehabilitation Services’ unique experience of eating without seeing. The fundraiser and awareness-building event starts with socializing and cocktails, then each guest is blindfolded and led into the dining room by sighted guides, trained by the CBA staff. The sighted guides are Jamestown Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant students and SUNY Fredonia pre-health club students. They stay with their table of guests and assist them with their meal. The event is on Thursday, April 21 at the beautiful Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, starting at 6 PM.

The evening is filled with recognition and both a live and silent auction. The CBA Louise Tefft award will be given to long-time supporter and friend Michael Herlong. “Michael is a long-time supporter of the agency. He is a floral designer at the Fresh & Fancy Floral Design Studio owned by his mother Charlotte Herlong. Michael has made use of our services and continues to support us by telling others about our services, advertising the Dining in the Dark event at the shop and even designating CBA for a $10,000 grant from the Small Business Revolution television production in 2020,” said Executive Director Joni Blackman, “I asked him to give us his thoughts during our strategic planning session in February, and he was there to give us his perspective, even on Valentine’s weekend! For a florist – that’s saying something.” Ms. Blackman added, “The speakers are the Stone family who has used a number of our services over the years. They are very inspirational.”

The silent auction has a variety of themed baskets for guests to bid on: from local wine and brewery baskets to yard games, books & tea, dog and cat baskets, handmade furniture and local artworks. “We are accepting donations up through April 18th”, said Blackman.

The live auction has a group of Buffalo Bills memorabilia; signed helmets, a signed jersey and a signed football. There is also a beautiful handmade live edge wood bench, wine rack, wall hanger and end table. There will also be a large painting by a local artist who is vision impaired.

The event’s sponsors are UPMC Chautauqua, Wegmans, Stone Audiology, Stone Plumbing, ICYY INK, Ahlstrom Schaeffer Electric Corporation, Weber-Knapp, Chautauqua Eye Care, Fresh & Fancy Floral Design, Chautauqua Chemical, The Resource Center, Spectrum Eye Care, David Snow State Farm, Hansen Financial Group, STEL, Lind Funeral Home, Allied Alarm, Lawley/Rhoe B. Henderson Insurance, and Cattaraugus County Bank.

Guests can enjoy a delicious 3-course meal of their choosing by making their reservations at www.chautauquablind.org/Dining-in-the-Dark/ or by calling 716-664-6660. Tickets are $65 each and reservations are due by April 11. All proceeds support the Youth Vision Screening Program which screens over 4,000 children, aged 3-6 years old, every year for early childhood eye disorders. CBA’s mission is to enable visually impaired people to be active members of their community and to provide education and services to prevent vision loss. YOU can help us fulfill our mission.

Chautauqua Blind Association is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization; your donation is tax deductible.