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Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind to Host Lighting the Way Gala with Special Guest Chef Christine Ha

November 2, 2018

On Wednesday evening, December 5th, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB) is hosting its first-ever Lighting the Way Gala at the Embassy of France.  The event will promote braille literacy and technology programs for children who are blind or visually impaired.

Our featured guest is Chef Christine Ha, Season 3 winner of Gordon Ramsey’s MasterChef (FOX). Christine, who is blind, is planning to share her amazing story, provide a cooking demonstration, and collaborate with Café Descartes, the in-house caterer at the Embassy, to offer a unique, gourmet plated dinner following a cocktail reception.

Our gala chairs are Tom Raffa, CEO of Raffa, Andy Shallal, Founder, Busboys & Poets, and Alexandra Alfonso, Youth Co-Chair.  Debbi Jarvis, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations, at Howard University, will serve as the Master of Ceremonies, for the evening gala.

CLB’s President and CEO, Tony Cancelosi remarked, “We are honored to showcase the abilities of people with vision loss as we work together to raise support for a braille literacy and technology program for elementary and middle schools students who are visually impaired or blind.”

Chef Christine Ha said, “After losing my vision, I decided to change my career path and return to school to get a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. I thought I could get by in the program simply on audio books but soon realized I was not truly literate as a visually impaired individual unless I knew how to read Braille. I am proud to have since learned Braille and enjoy reading novels every day. It is an honor to be part of the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind’s event to raise money for Braille literacy. I hope those attending the evening’s festivities leave feeling inspired and empowered.”


Why are we supporting braille literacy?

• Braille literacy correlates to academic success, higher income and employment. Overall, literacy improves student success, confidence and independence.

• 50% of high school students who are blind dropout before graduating one of the reasons can be attributed to their braille literacy or lack of it. There is a direct correlation to unemployment and dropout rates in persons who are blind.

• Students who are blind and visually impaired should be afforded the same rights as their peers. Poverty in the blind community is preventable by education. Literacy is the key to preventing poverty in the blind community.

To coordinate an interview or photo-op, please contact Jocelyn Hunter at or (202) 454-6422. To register for the event,


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About Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB)  //  Founded in 1900, Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind is the only organization of its kind to provide life-changing skills and services to clients who are blind, visually impaired, and deaf-blind members of the greater Washington region. Through vision-health screenings, a mobile eye care unit, independent living skills training, community support groups for youth and adults, career counseling and job placement, CLB enables clients to reclaim personal and professional independence by learning to navigate mobility and employment challenges that arise from vision loss. CLB manages 11 government contracts, employing blind members of greater D.C. and has served Washington DC’s blind and visually impaired community with life-changing resources for 118 years. For additional information, visit