FLORENCE, S.C. — Jennifer Bazer is a mom, an aunt, a daughter, a friend, a leader, a presenter, an advocate — and she also happens to be blind.
Bazer, director of Rocky Bottom Children’s Camp of the Blind and director of the National Federation of the Blind’s Successful Transitions program, spoke to the Florence Lion’s Club on Wednesday at lunch.
Lion’s Clubs have historically supported vision care and programs for the blind.
Bazer brought with her Rockin’ Robin, a seeing-eye dog she acquired from the Leader Dog program.
Bazer spoke to the Lions about the camp, located on 30-plus acres in Sunset, that is the only one of its kind that is both owned and operated by the blind. The camp averages 50 campers over a week every summer.
The camp gives blind children a chance to be with other blind children, teaches life skills, Braille, walking with a cane, cooking, bed making — skills necessary to be successful in life, she said.
She attended the camp as a child and has come full circle as the director now for the last four years, she said.
The Successful Transitions program’s focus is on getting those children ready to go into the work world, she said.
“Preparing them to go to college if that’s what they want to do. Preparing them to live the lives they want as a blind person. Being independent,” Bazer said.
She has a bachelor’s degree from Winthrop and a MSW from USC.
Her goal for 2020 is to be president for South Carolina of the National Federation of the Blind.
Bazer, a single mother with two children, said she was born blind and can see only light, dark and contrast and occasionally allows herself to feel sorry for herself.
“When they were babies I would have loved to know what they looked like. Now, as they grow up, I’d love to see who do they look like, mom or dad,” she said. “How about the leaves that are changing in the fall or flowers that are blooming in the spring?”
“It’s those little things I miss that I can’t see,” Bazer said.
She also said she misses being able to drive, though with planning she can use Uber or Lyft.
After Bazer’s talk with the club, Beverly Sansbury, president, announced a $5,000 donation to Leader Dogs for the Blind, a Michigan organization that was founded by a Lion in 1937.
That donation comes with the rights to choose and name a puppy that is in training to be a guide dog.
Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News’ newsroom by maintaining SCNow.com and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.