The Wintergarden, in the heart of the glorious Auckland domain, was the venue for an intimate catch up with The Blind Foundation, an organisation that the firm is proud to support. The Blind Foundation provides practical and emotional support for the tens of thousands of Kiwis who are blind or have low vision, enabling them to face their future with confidence.
Welcomed by Fundraising General Manager, Cherie McClintock and joined by comedian, Josh Davies, Louise von Sierakowski GM Marketing and long-standing supporter and former GM Strategic Relations, Neil Jarvis.
The event kicked off with a very talented and quick-witted skit by comedian, Joshua Davies, recounting his very personal experience of being totally blind in his left eye and 6/38 visual acuity in his right. Josh openly admits it can be a challenge delivering a laugh out loud show without causing offense, finding that balance is vital.
"I think intent and not talking down to people is a big part of it. Since everyone knows it's coming from a place of goodwill and embracing our collective flaws, whether that is our eyes or our personalities or our inability to resist a block of chocolate. It can definitely be a fine line given that everyone has their own view on what is offensive and what isn't. I just try not to be cruel to people, that's usually enough." Josh says.
The mic was then handed to Louise von Sierakowski who gave a wonderful update on how the organisation is moving forward across the board. With the departure of CEO, Sandra Budd, who has been with the organisation since 2007, sees an opportunity to take the foundation is a new direction. Whilst incredibly valid and an important part of the organisation, there is a drive to branch out and promote the wider support offerings beyond their highly appealing guide dog service.
Louise went onto introduce Access Advisors, a pan-disability accessibility solutions provider with a goal of making accessible workplaces easy to achieve so that disabled people can enjoy the same employment opportunities as everyone else. Several well-known organisations are already successfully embedding the initiative. The future looks bright for the foundation and this comes with a change in name to reflect and better align to objective of 'Life without limits 'Kahore e Mutunga Ki te Ora'. The Blind Foundation team around the country aim to enable people who are blind or have low vision to be self-reliant and live the life they choose.
Former, GM Strategic Relations, Neil Jarvis gave a humble account of his time with the foundation and will still be actively involved as a consultant.
Neil's contribution to the community has been immense and has changed the lives of people who are blind or have low vision for the better. Neil was instrumental in many initiatives during his time and his work for the World Blind Union included:
- The transforming Braille project which brought to market the first ever low-cost electronic braille device that is a faction of the cost of traditional devices and changed the face of the market forever.
- Campaigning for the ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty in NZ and the Asia Pacific region. This has resulted in more than 10 countries in the region ratifying the treaty with New Zealand expected to follow suit before the end of the year.
Thanks to our friends at the foundation for a great evening of laughter, inspiration and reflection.
Check out the links below for further information on comedian Josh Davies and Access Advisors.