Blind couple can read the fine print with Lions' gift of high-tech device

NEIGHBORS

November 25, 2001|By Rosalie Falter | Rosalie Falter,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CONTINUING A tradition of performing good works in the community, the Linthicum Lions Club presented a young couple with a machine last week that uses closed-circuit television to help the visually impaired read even fine print.

Tom and Monica Venesky of Hanover are legally blind. Monica has a disease called retinitis pigmentosis and Tom has retinopathy of prematurity, a condition he has had since birth.

The Linthicum Lions Club and the Veneskys met through a social worker at St. Agnes HealthCare, where Monica gave birth to their son, Nicholas, 10 months ago. The Veneskys' names and phone number were passed on to the Lions Club, and the members of the group called to offer the family help.

When the Veneskys said they needed a good reading/magnifying machine, the Lions agreed to raise the $1,800 needed to buy one. Fund-raisers such as basket bingo games in the spring helped them reach the goal.

"We're good for a little club," said Peggy Samuels, who has been a member for 10 years.

Harold Boccia, owner of Chesapeake Low Vision Inc. and regional distributor of the Optelec Electric Reading Machine, brought the equipment to a club meeting Monday at Terri's Place and demonstrated what it can do.

The lightweight, one-piece unit consists of a camera that focuses on items and then displays them magnified on a monitor. It is useful for reading everything from newspapers to the small print on medicine bottles to instructions on a box of cake mix.

"It's simple, it's easy, there is nothing magical about it," Boccia said of the machine. The Veneskys had an older reading machine, and they were surprised to see how easy the new one is to operate.

"Our old machine doesn't do half as much as this new one," Monica Venesky said. She said it would be much easier to read her mail and do many things around the house.

She said she was grateful that the club was able to help her and her husband.

Tom Durkin, president of the Linthicum Lions Club, thanked Boccia for demonstrating the machine. "Most of us weren't sure of exactly what it was," he said.

After he presented it to the Veneskys, Durkin said, "When I got involved in the Lions Club, this is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to do."

The meeting Monday was also an occasion to induct a member into the club. Robert Eisenberg, governor of the Lions Clubs International district that includes the Linthicum chapter, welcomed Catherine Eager.

"The Lions club is a premier service club," he said. "The Lions give people hope."

Eisenberg also said many people do not realize all the things that Lions clubs do. The club is associated mostly with helping people with impaired vision and hearing, but it also takes on other projects such as delivering socks to nursing homes and painting houses for those in need, he said.

Lions Club International has raised more than a million dollars for victims of the terrorist attacks, he said. "Twenty-five thousand dollars is coming in each day and we may end up with collecting $3 million."

Linthicum resident Clement F. Kusiak, past international director of the International Association of Lions Clubs, was a guest at the meeting. Kusiak is running for second vice president of the international association.

Membership in the Linthicum Lion's club is open to men and women older than age 18. Anyone interested in learning more about the organization is invited to attend a meeting. They are held at 7 p.m. on the first and third Monday of each month at St. John Lutheran Church, 300 W. Maple Road.

The Linthicum Lion's Club is raising money for community projects by sponsoring a fruit sale. Fresh fruit is available by the case and half-case. Available are: navel oranges for $14 or $9.50; ruby red grapefruit, $13 or $9; tangerines, $20 or $12.50; and tangelos, $13 or $9. Orders and payment in full must be received by Dec. 4. Fruit must be picked up at the Linthicum Elementary School between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Information or to place an order: 410-859-8967 or 410-859-0865.

Christmas concert

The Performing Arts Association of Linthicum will present a Christmas program at 3 p.m. Dec. 2 at Chesapeake Center for the Creative Arts in Brooklyn Park. Award-winning ensemble the Monumental Brass will entertain with an repertoire spanning the centuries.

Free parking is available at Chesapeake Center. The auditorium is accessible to the handicapped and has assistance for the hearing-impaired.

Tickets to concerts are sold on a subscription basis. Those interested can still subscribe. The cost is $34 for the season. Besides Sunday's concert, three other performances are scheduled: soprano Joscelyn Taylor on Jan. 20; Maryland Sings, a group of high school and college students, March 17; and a tribute to the Count Basie Band presented by John Tegler on April 27.

The Linthicum association is celebrating its 20th season of bringing quality concerts at a low price to the people of northern Anne Arundel County and surrounding areas. The association is partially funded by grants from the Cultural Arts Foundation of Anne Arundel County Inc. and the Maryland State Arts Council.

Information or to subscribe: Jo Barker, 410-859-3308; or Eloise Vaughan, 410-859-8047.

Bus trip canceled

Ferndale Roadrunners has announced that the bus trip the group had planned for Thursday has been canceled.

Associate members and friends are invited to attend the group's Christmas party from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 19 at Michael's Eighth Avenue in Glen Burnie. Tickets are $16 a person.

Information or reservations: Pete Scott, 410-761-0484.

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