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Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Gloria Duckett, Director of Seabury’s Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired* in Northeast Washington, D.C. has seen her share of challenges over her 18-year career.

Older adults enjoying a popular pre-COVID event, the annual Senior Prom.

However, when the pandemic hit with force in March, she was still shocked when the site closed for the safety of participants and staff. Her first thought was, “We have to do something right away so people won’t just be sitting at home, bored and even depressed.” Ms. Duckett was keenly aware of the physical and mental risks of social isolation on older adults.

To maintain connections, Ms. Duckett quickly set up a daily teleconference. She personally called each participant to guide them through the new process of joining the call.

“It was chaotic at first.”, she says, as the participants learned the ropes of the new routine. But eventually, even those who initially struggled, joined daily.

Memories of in-person events motivate Ms. Duckett (left, at Senior Prom 2017) to foster virtual connections.

Now, presenters from all types of partner organizations are also engaging! The call kicks off with a new segment called Did You Know? It is followed by an educational component from a partner. Seabury’s Ward 5 Nutritionist educates participants about healthy eating habits. Ms. Duckett leads trivia or bingo on Fridays. Participants also eagerly await a return to in-person gatherings. “They all still talk about getting together”, she says of the Center, where participants used to enjoy meals together. In the meantime, the calls keep participants connected.

*This program is supported by the D.C. Office of Aging and Community Living.


Read the other stories of Winter '21 Resource below or find the full pdf here.


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