Image of Dragonfly





Club Vibes has spread its impact wider with the mini-grant it awarded to me in October. I applied for a grant to fund an Adaptive Tech and Tool Lab for the Low Vision Resource Group I started in Oak Ridge the same month. My experience these past nine years with Vibes as a mentor allowed me to learn so much about available adaptive aids and sources of help and information, as well as meet other adult mentors and talk about our experiences.  

I’ve gotten to know many other adults trying to adjust and adapt to vision loss through my wider connections made through the Club. The Low Vision Resource Group is focused on helping those with vision loss, as well as their spouses, caregivers, and anyone interested in learning about resources for living a more independent and happier life.

The Adaptive Tech and Tool Lab funded by my mini-grant has allowed me to purchase adaptive aids that our members can pick up, feel and try out before buying them from a website or catalog. Most people have no idea of what’s available to make their lives easier, and the Lab is a great hands-on way to learn.

Examples of aids I have bought with the mini-grant include, a talking kitchen scale, liquid level indicators, bold pens, signature and check-writing stencils, talking watches, a variety of magnifiers, a voice recorder, a lightweight white identity cane, and much more. I bought three books that I gave to members at our last meeting a few days before Thanksgiving. They were written for small children and titled, “Grandpa’s White Cane”. Some of our members were visiting grandchildren and it helped them feel more comfortable about using their white canes.

Our group meets once a month for two hours with speakers and social time where they are able to share and socialize and spend time at the Adaptive Tech and Tool Lab, asking questions and trying out the items. We had over 20 people come to our first two meetings, and the word is still getting out. Thank you, Club Vibes, for allowing me to share these valuable and often unknown tools with my community. I am always happy to tell everyone about the generous grant that made it possible. 

All meetings are via Zoom unless otherwise noted.

Confirm these dates when you receive your monthly calendar.


8 and 22-Chat on the Porch; 7:30 pm

15-Deadline for mini-grant submission


12 and 26-Chat on the Porch; 7:30 pm

-Deadline for mini-grant submission


12 and 26-Chat on the Porch; 7:30 pm

-Deadline for mini-grant submission



A while back, John wrote about the success that his wife, Sue, who is also blind, had in renewing her driver's license which she had from the days before she was blind. (You're Blind? Sure We Can Renew Your Driver's License, November 2015. Click here to read this former blog). Well, it seems that some folks who are blind also legally carry guns. Click here to read the details.


Everyone has a chance at some point in their lives to "turn lemons into lemonade". John gives an example of how this worked for him at the beginning of his college experience. Click here to read John's blog.


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We have a variety of items with the Club VIBES logo for sale including coasters for car cup holders for $3.00 each or 2 for $5.00 and micro-fiber towels in orange, grey, green, and blue for $10.00. Contact to purchase items. These make great gifts!

Car cupholder coasters

Micro-fiber towels


Our club members have received many benefits from the generosity of our partners and other donors. It is important that the members also experience giving as well as receiving. Each VIBES member proposed a blind-related charity for a donation from Club VIBES which the membership voted on. This year's recipients will be Hadley School for the Blind, whose mission is to "create personalized learning opportunities that empower adults with vision loss or blindness to thrive - at home, at work, and in their communities. For the Hadley website, click here and ibug "a non-profit organization promoting the individual independence, social integration, and educational development of the blind community through accessible technology training". For the ibug website, click here

Vibes shoppers Marian and Illya with their DG elves.


One of the favorite activities for members of Club VIBES is Shopping With Elves. Delta Gamma guides helped Vibes members shop for family and friends at West Town Mall. Members came with shopping lists and definite ideas of what they were shopping for. In addition to shopping, it was fun hanging out with the DG ladies


Paige on the zip line


by Paige

I attended Camp H2O last summer. The camp, which is free to blind and visually impaired students, is held at Camp Hanes in North Carolina and lasts for five days. On the first night, we had a campfire where we made s'mores, and sang songs, while the counselors performed skits.  Every morning, we went to the chapel after breakfast where we listened to stories teaching us about morals. Later we participated in activities including paddle boarding, a power pull, canoeing, the alpine tower, water zip lining, alpine zip lining, rock climbing, and the V swing. Out of all of those, my favorite was the water zip. I also liked the V swing. To do this, I climbed a ladder. Once I got to the top, the counselor took the ladder from beneath my feet and I swung freely in a harness.

I also did horseback riding. To be honest, the movement was a bit much for me. Besides getting on a horse, I got to feed the horses and groom them (brushing their fur). We also hung out at the pool, and I went down one of the waterslides. It was a tunnel. I was nervous at first, but I ended up having a great time. I’d have to say that I  will definitely go back. Everyone was so nice and supportive, especially Gabby, who helped me get out of my comfort zone and encouraged me to try new things.

Check out our spring newsletter for information on how to enroll in Camp H2O and some of the other camps offered. 


Cartoon picture of tropical scene of palm trees and colorful parrot


Members enjoyed an evening of fun and games at the annual holiday party while catching up with those home from college. With the Islands theme, it looked like this was more of a summer celebration than one for the winter holidays. Everyone brought a dessert to share and dressed in their best island attire.



It is time for high school seniors, and even those already in college or vocational schools, to apply for scholarships. The East Tennessee Foundation has a listing of almost 70 scholarships, many with unique requirements such as place of residence, being the first member of their family to attend college, or being in the band. In addition, there are others for specialized fields of study, such as medicine, veterinary science, social work, and even cybersecurity. One particular notable scholarship is the Debbie VanCleave Scholarship in honor of a blind student who attended Knox County Schools. For details about this specific scholarship, click here It is for blind or visually impaired students, full or part-time, attending or planning to attend four-year, community, or vocational programs in the East Tennessee area served by the East Tennessee Foundation. 

To apply to one or more of the scholarships on the list you must fill out one online application. After you submit the general application you will receive a list of scholarships for which you are eligible. Go to this webpage, East Tennessee Foundationfor a list of the scholarships, very explicit directions, and the application. It is very important to read the directions carefully before submitting an application.


by Sophie Tibbetts

During my last semester at Johnson University, I had the privilege of performing an independent study under the direction of Dr. Ron Wheeler. For this project, I examined the areas of my life that held the greatest impact on my perspective of the world. I ended up with two topics: Disability and religion. From there I decided to research how these different spheres of a person’s life interacted with one another. I broke the project into two parts with each divided into its own sections. 

The first half of my study establishes credibility to the need for a deeper discussion on the subject of disability within private religious spaces along with my own credibility as a blind Christian. To give an example of how one’s personal faith relates to the realm of one’s disability, I performed a literary analysis of Jesus’ call to the “least of these” in which I interpreted the true meaning of the text not to say that people with special needs are any “less”, but rather that they ought to feel equally as sought after as those identified by society as “able-bodied.” The second piece of this study served as a narrative where I shared my brother Joseph and my experiences within the church. This included stories about how youth sponsors and church leaders made us feel welcomed and heard within our religious circle.

The final essay for the first half pointed to the need for accountability within the church, and in all religious and social sectors of our culture, when it comes to the topic of ableism. This study investigates others’ experiences with outdated terminology and stigma surrounding the disabled, especially the blind, within the church. While private institutions may not have federal funding or a legal obligation to aid those with accommodations, we can start coming together to create a more accessible space for all. 

I entitled the second portion of my study “Stories from the In-Between.” Here, I reverted to a more journalistic approach to my research. These interviews challenge black-and-white views of people with disabilities by demonstrating, for example, the diversity found among the wide spectrum of blindness. To accomplish this goal, I carefully selected three individuals who identify as legally blind. While

I will not yet disclose their responses, each interviewee responded to questions about the medical diagnosis for their low or no vision, core religious and lifestyle values, demographic information, and sociopolitical opinions on matters pressing to the blind including ableism and access to accommodations within private institutions. By recording my interviewees’ responses, I hope to encourage my audience to recognize the importance of listening to their disabled peers. 

It is my goal to open greater discussion of these matters among both the disabled and able-bodied communities within America. While the “Stories from the In-Between” became my favorite project, and one I hope to continue in the future, I hope to publish all my research so that we can create more welcoming environments for people of all kinds and give people with disabilities access to practice their personal belief systems alongside their peers. 



This is a repeat of an article from 2020 that might be useful to our college and K-12 students. Brainfuse is a free tutoring service that pairs students with live teachers in a wide range of subjects. It also includes a writing lab in which students can work with tutors for help in preparing writing assignments. Click here to go to the Brainfuse website to learn more about tutoring. Click here to read a review of Brainfuse and details about the use of this service from Veronica Lewis, a visually impaired college student that writes a blog, on assistive technology, tips on how to be a successful student, and other issues relevant to blind and visually impaired students. To go to Veronica's blog, Veroniiiica Four Eyes, click here.