CLAREMORE – Sue Speer, coordinator of the Claremore Support Group for the Blind and Visually Impaired, will move to Joplin, Missouri, ending more than 10 years as a leader of that local organization.
The support group for people with vision loss and their families celebrated their 10th anniversary in September 2017.
Speer and LaVinda Bolton launched the support group in September 2007 with encouragement from Charley Tipps, a Visual Services rehabilitation teacher who served people with vision loss in the area.
Visual Services is a Division of the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation services, which helps people who are blind or visually impaired reach their employment or personal independence goals.
“For the last 10 years, Sue has been an outstanding coordinator of the support group,” Visual Services Program Manager Charley Tipps said. “She is a supreme example of how a legally blind person can maintain her independence and involvement in the community.”
As many as 50 people with vision loss from Claremore and the surrounding area attend the support group’s monthly meetings on the third Wednesday of each month at the Claremore Community Center.
As coordinator, Speer has scheduled hundreds of speakers, coordinated and prepared the lunch menu, asked members to volunteer or bring food and arranged Pelivan rides for organization members.
Claremore Lions Club members also assist with rides to the meeting.
“The support group is very important,” Speer said in a telephone interview between packing boxes. “The people who come count on our meetings and won’t miss unless they are sick or have doctors’ appointments.
“We share what works for us with each other, which makes life with vision loss a little easier,” she said.
Speer is excited about her new adventure, but can’t entirely leave her old friends in the support group behind.
“I’ve already attended the Joplin blind association club and have been accepted as a member,” she said, “but my son Gary still lives in Claremore so I’ll be back to visit.”
Bolton and other Claremore Support Group members are sad to see Speer go, but are preparing to fill in as needed.
“Sue and I have been working together for six months so I can learn all the tasks that she has done for us,” Bolton said. “It’s going to take all of us, but we don’t want to give up our support group.”
The next meeting is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18, at the Claremore Community Center, 2301 N. Sioux.
There is no charge to attend. A free lunch will be served with coffee and soft drinks.
For more information, contact LaVinda Bolton at 918-341-1079.