The Heart Knows:


Karen Coney Coplin

Karen Coney Coplin

Can you read this? That’s what the Lighthouse of Collier, Inc. website, asks when you pay a visit online. If you can see, it’s probably hard to imagine getting through life’s activities without vision. But even if one can see, it is also easy to feel empathy in wanting children and adults with visual loss to feel safe, confident and grow into a productive life, in a “sighted world.”

The Lighthouse of Collier, Inc., Center for Blindness and Vision Loss, assists the estimated 14,000 local children and adults who are sight-impaired in Naples and surrounds in a variety of ways. This non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization exists to help clients and their families and caregivers assist with socialization and communication skills as well as mobility and navigation issues – something that seems, with sight, as easy as getting from point “A” to “B.”

coplin1Of course, it’s not so simple, especially if you can’t see. What about taking medications? How about getting around Naples? The Lighthouse offers instruction in a variety of skills for adults as well as “transition classes” aimed at teenagers and young adults between the ages of 14-22.
Some of these classes include instruction on living at home safely and independently – ranging from an array of diverse topics: tactile medication labeling, cooking instruction, money identification, instruction in Braille, personal grooming, and assistive technology tutorials, to name a few.

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” – Helen Keller

coplin2With Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day just ahead, summertime and summer camp are just around the corner. The Lighthouse of Collier is offering a camp for vision-impaired children, which it has done since 2009.

One parent, Marcia Muller, shared her four year old son’s experiences at camp last summer:

“At first we were hesitant to have Andrew attend Lighthouse’s summer camp since he was so young and had never been away from his family. We were surprised when on the 2nd day of camp Andrew was waiting at the front door of our house with his backpack on asking if it was time to go yet? It was only 6:45 in the morning…With compliments to the staff and volunteers, our hopes and expectations for summer camp were definitely met – and exceeded: positive interaction with other children, activities that were specifically geared to Andrew’s abilities and gave him a feel for being away from mom and dad. His favorite activities at camp were the outings including paddle boarding. He loved riding the bus with the others and heading out on adventures, it really gave him a sense of independence. Most of all he loves all the new friends that he has made while attending the programs at Lighthouse. It’s comforting for us to know Lighthouse of Collier will be there as we prepare Andrew to enter the school system. The staff, with their resources and expertise, will be able to guide us and his school with any special equipment and guidance Andrew might need, and also help him realize there are may children with impairments just like him.”

This summer’s camp will be located at the Girl Scout House in Naples, located at 601 Park St, Naples, FL 34102. To help defer camp expenses, note that $50 allows the organization to purchase a cane for a camper client. A nutritious daily lunch for all campers can be sponsored for $300; a camper’s summer session is a $1,500 donation. All of the funds raised help local clients: 100 percent of the tax deductible funds raised stay in Collier County.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” -Jonathan Swift

If you know of someone who may wish to send a child to camp, or use other services that the Lighthouse of Collier offers, or lend support to its mission, contact the organization by phone 239.430.3934 or via email: (Summer camp applications are due on June 1; the camp runs July 6 – 31).

The organization’s offices are at 2885 Horseshoe Drive S., Suite 211. Naples, Florida 34104. The website is:
“Like” them, too, on Facebook:

coplin4The summer at the Lighthouse will be busy! It will celebrate its 6th Anniversary with an Open House on May 5; and on May 30, will co-host with the Naples Equestrian Challenge, a children’s event. June, 2015 marks Cataract Awareness Month and a June 6 pizza party. Likewise, the Naples Art Association will host an upcoming children’s event at the Von Liebig Art Center. Contact the Lighthouse (by phone) to learn more or to register for any of these events and to learn about upcoming fundraisers like the popular “Boogie on the Beach.”

Special thanks to Lori Bassano, a board member who suggested that I write about this organization, and its Executive Director, Robin Goldstone Garcia, who first interacted with the Lighthouse of Collier as a parent – client, and now oversees its many no-cost (to participants) programs and outreach. As for myself, I’m sponsoring a camp lunch! Email Karen at

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