Last week was all about The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.’s annual Deaf-Blind Retreat at Seabeck, WA. Interspersed with the activities, learning, and visiting that always occurs at the retreat were Government Relations activities.
On Tuesday, Mark Landreneau hosted a workshop presented by State Representative Kathy Haight, from the 35th District (where Seabeck is located), on the legislative process and working with your state representatives.
On Friday, Maura Little, Constituent Services Representative from Congressman Jay Inslee’s office, toured the retreat, visiting crafts, technology and waterfront activities, and meeting many retreat participants.
Also on Friday, Lou Oma Durand, Director of Washington State’s Department of Services for the Blind (DSB), visited the retreat with DSB manager Arlene Itou. Lou Oma has been involved with the Deaf-Blind community since the establishment of the Deaf-Blind Service Center (DBSC). She is currently facing very difficult times related to required budgetary cuts. She shared the sobering news with us that she has been directed to reduce her state-funded budget by 10%. She is not able to reduce programs that have a federal match, or programs that are part of DSB’s core mission of finding employment for people who are blind. The result is a proposed elimination of funding for the Deaf-Blind Service Center. The Deaf-Blind community is still absorbing this stunning information. When DBSC and the community have developed their response strategy, our Government Relations team and the Lighthouse will be ready to support the community in their efforts to restore state funding, possibly from another source, to this unique agency and its critical work.