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Blind Service Association

Blind Service Association Since 1924 BSA has provided programs and services to empower the blind and low vision community through all phases of life with personalized services.

Blind Service Association (BSA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing an array of programs and services to people who are blind and visually impaired in the Chicagoland area. We are located at:

17 N. State Street, Suite 1050
Chicago, Illinois 60602
312-236-0808

Here are some of the things we do:

• One-to-One Reading where trained volunteers are available to read any type of material

Blind Service Association (BSA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization providing an array of programs and services to people who are blind and visually impaired in the Chicagoland area. We are located at:

17 N. State Street, Suite 1050
Chicago, Illinois 60602
312-236-0808

Here are some of the things we do:

• One-to-One Reading where trained volunteers are available to read any type of material

Operating as usual

To all the Veterans: thank you for your service, sacrifice, and bravery.  Image Description: Blue stars in background, r...
11/11/2022

To all the Veterans: thank you for your service, sacrifice, and bravery.

Image Description: Blue stars in background, red and white stripes on the bottom, soldier saluting with US Flag and the text "Thank you Veterans" and "Veterans Day".

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but we should celebrate the contributions of workers with dis...
10/20/2022

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, but we should celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities and practice supportive, inclusive employment policies all yearlong! In a recent study by Accenture, in partnership with Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), research shows that companies that embrace best practices for employing and supporting more persons with disabilities in their workforce have outperformed their peers. This "untapped" talent pool can help a company increase innovation, improve productivity, and help stand out from the competition. There are many more benefits, plus key actions for attracting, hiring, retaining and advancing diverse talent in the study. You can read more:https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/pdf-89/accenture-disability-inclusion-research-report.pdf

Today is , proclaimed in 1964 by President Johnson to raise awareness of how this tool and its training could give a per...
10/16/2022

Today is , proclaimed in 1964 by President Johnson to raise awareness of how this tool and its training could give a person who is vision impaired additional independence and confidence when traveling as well as a reminder for sighted pedestrians and motorists to identify and yield to people using a white cane. Enjoy this episode of Hadley Presents with the authors of Grandpa’s White Cane:

Jim Hoxie and Joanna Jones join us to discuss their children’s book, "Grandpa's White Cane." Jim shares how vision loss shaped his life and how he and Joanna met and began teaching children about the importance of White Cane Day and the dos and don'ts for helping people with visual impairment.

New podcast episode! Listen Now:
https://hadley.edu/hadley-presents/grandpas-white-cane

Isn't fall just the perfect time for stories? If you enjoy listening to stories or telling your own tales, BSA has two w...
10/11/2022

Isn't fall just the perfect time for stories? If you enjoy listening to stories or telling your own tales, BSA has two wonderful programs that occur via our teleconference line that celebrate both published and impromptu storytelling.

🍁Mondays @ 1pm - BSA's SHORT SELECTIONS features 1 or 2 short stories read by volunteers. This month's selections include an installment of the "The Green Mile" series by Stephen King as well as short stories from Robert Fulghum, Flannery O'Connor, & Jess Walter.

🍁Thursdays @ 10:30am - STORYTELLING is open-mic storytelling, you can simply listen or you can share a story. Upcoming themes this month include: Pumpkin Spice & All Things Pumpkin, Slow Cookin', & Scariest Moments.

See our monthly newsletter for the call in # or contact the BSA office 312-236-0808.
Image Description: red cup and saucer with hot beverage on a table next to a cocktail napkin that says, "We are made of stories".

Early Voting in Chicago for the 2022 General Election began yesterday for two locations in the Loop: The Chicago Board o...
10/08/2022

Early Voting in Chicago for the 2022 General Election began yesterday for two locations in the Loop: The Chicago Board of Elections Supersite (191 N. Clark) and the Chicago Board of Elections Office (69 W. Washington, 6th Floor). BSA can help clients by providing volunteers that will walk with to and from the voting site, starting at the BSA office. If you are a client interested in this service or a volunteer that would like to assist, please call BSA to set up an appointment: 312-236-0808.

Clients - You can also make a reading appointment during office hours on either end of your voting and work with a volunteer on any reading or internet assistance you need. Our reading rooms, volunteers, and staff are ready to help!

For more info about Early Voting, go to the CBOE website:https://chicagoelections.gov/en/early-voting.html

Image Description: A woman with I Voted Early stickers covering her glasses points to a sign that says, "Early Voting Here".

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! In February, Accessible Pharmacy  hosted a webinar to discuss accessible breas...
10/07/2022
Dr. Kim Kubek at the Breast Cancer Webinar

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! In February, Accessible Pharmacy hosted a webinar to discuss accessible breast cancer information, detection, and prevention for blind women and their families and are sharing this important resource with anyone who can benefit from hearing it. You can click on the You Tube link at the end of this paragraph to hear the whole audio webinar with all speakers including Dr. Kim Kubek, a board-certified Diagnostic Radiologist, Dr. Jill Lykon, a Clinical Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Coordinator, Dr. Kristin Capece, a Board Certified Geriatric Pharmacist, and the American Cancer Society. ASL interpretation is also included on the video. Or you can start at the time 14:43 to hear to the audio description of how to do a breast self-exam and what to expect at a mammogram appointment, narrated by Dr. Kim Kubek. https://youtu.be/sYjR_Z5WT-w


Image Description: Clip of You Tube video shows ASL interrupter signing Dr. Kubek's narration.

Learn how to do a breast self-exam with Dr Kim Kubek

This summer our clients walked over with BSA volunteers to enjoy the Thursday Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market.  If you haven...
10/06/2022

This summer our clients walked over with BSA volunteers to enjoy the Thursday Daley Plaza Farmer’s Market. If you haven’t had this opportunity yet, we still have a few more weeks left but October 27th is the last day! Call Marty at BSA 312-236-0808 to sign up or volunteer.

2nd Story and SPORK! are partnering to host two story circles on October 14 and 15.  Friday's workshop is for writers wi...
10/05/2022

2nd Story and SPORK! are partnering to host two story circles on October 14 and 15. Friday's workshop is for writers with disabilities and Saturday's workshop is for caregivers of people with disabilities. Both take place via Zoom and are free to participate but you must register as space is limited: https://forms.gle/PiGmmPVHruqFCYzq5

SPACE IS STILL AVAILABLE!

SPORK! and 2nd Story have partnered to host two FREE virtual story circles this October. One story circle is for folks with disabilities and the other is for folks who serve as caregivers for folks with disabilities. During the Story Circle, we’ll work through a series of activities that will help us share and listen to each other’s stories out loud. There’s nothing to prepare, all we ask is that you come ready to listen and share as you feel moved to do so. Please note that space is limited and that accommodations are available upon request.

Gather Together: A Story Circle for Writers with Disabilities
October 14, 2022 (Friday) - 12:00 - 2:00PM

Holding Space: A Story Circle for Caregivers of Folks with Disabilities
October 15, 2022 (Saturday) - 12:00 - 2:00PM

Sign Up Link:
https://lnkd.in/etRC9Kxb

For more information please visit: https://lnkd.in/ejAeVccJ

Another beautiful excursion for BSA clients and volunteers in the books!  We enjoyed a walking tour of Lurie Garden led ...
10/04/2022

Another beautiful excursion for BSA clients and volunteers in the books! We enjoyed a walking tour of Lurie Garden led by its knowledgeable horticulturalists. This 'secret garden' nestled in Millennium Park is not only a peaceful place for humans to enjoy, but a healthy habitat that supports a wide variety of insects, animals, and plant life in all four seasons. This garden is free, beautiful year-round, and just across the way from BSA! https://www.luriegarden.org/about/

Image description: BSA clients and volunteers along the pathways of the Lurie Garden, flanked by wild grasses and flowers, listening to the garden's horticulturalists as they lead the tour and provide information.

Hadley (hadley.edu) has partnered with the National Eye Institute (NEI) to offer tutorials in Spanish through their onli...
09/22/2022

Hadley (hadley.edu) has partnered with the National Eye Institute (NEI) to offer tutorials in Spanish through their online learning hub, specifically Spanish-language version of their popular cooking tutorials.
Everyone who registers for their Spanish-language series will be notified as more resources become available. Register here: Hadley.edu/espanol. ¡Buen provecho!

Image Description: Woman in glasses and apron behind a kitchen counter filled with containers of dry goods (pasta, beans, flour etc.)

We partnered with Hadley to create a Spanish cooking series 🍳🍴 ! This , check out these workshops on kitchen safety with a vision impairment: https://hadley.edu/vision-resources/serie-sobre-cocinar

September is National Preparedness Month! BSA had a wonderful overview on this in February and now is a great time to re...
09/15/2022
Build A Kit | Ready.gov

September is National Preparedness Month! BSA had a wonderful overview on this in February and now is a great time to review what you learned and make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies that could happen at any time. One way to do this is to make sure you have your emergency kit ready to go - it should have everything you need to survive for several days, including food, water, and first aid kits. Check list can be found here: http://Ready.gov/kit

These resources teach you to build an emergency kit filled with the items you need to survive on your own for several days after a disaster. After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for sever...

Accessible Pharmacy hosts a free Blindness and Diabetes Webinar: Dexcom vs. Freestyle Libre on Friday, September 23 at 1...
09/10/2022

Accessible Pharmacy hosts a free Blindness and Diabetes Webinar: Dexcom vs. Freestyle Libre on Friday, September 23 at 11:00 a.m. CST that you can register for right now! University of Pennsylvania's Diabetes Education Center's Director Abbie Chesterson will be comparing Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) devices available to blind, DeafBlind, and low vision patients living with diabetes and discussing the differences between Dexcom and Freestyle Libre. Even if you are not able to attend, you can register and they will send you the webinar audio via email!

To register for free, and to learn more, please click the link below:
https://www.accessiblepharmacy.com/blindness-diabetes-webinar-dexcom-vs-freestyle-libre

BSA clients and volunteers had a wildly good time aboard the Wendella Chicago River cruise, enjoying the fully narrated ...
09/10/2022

BSA clients and volunteers had a wildly good time aboard the Wendella Chicago River cruise, enjoying the fully narrated tour focused on Chicago’s rich architectural history on a beautiful, sunny morning.

Image Description: Group of photos show the cruise boat, group of clients and volunteers, Marty Kummetz - Volunteer Manager, and architectural scenery.

ATTENTION BSA VOLUNTEERS: We need volunteers to assist with our Chicago Architecture cruise excursion this coming Tuesda...
08/25/2022

ATTENTION BSA VOLUNTEERS: We need volunteers to assist with our Chicago Architecture cruise excursion this coming Tuesday, August 30th. Total time approximately from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. You get to enjoy the cruise and help BSA clients, what's not to love about that? Please call Marty ASAP at 312-236-0808 (or email [email protected]) to sign up and get more details. Thank you!

Image description: Photos from our 2013 cruise excursion, Chicago river, skyline, and passengers.

After two years of conducting our Pathways Youth Summer Program virtually, BSA Youth Program, Coordinator Dustin Cather ...
08/16/2022

After two years of conducting our Pathways Youth Summer Program virtually, BSA Youth Program, Coordinator Dustin Cather brought it back in person for the 2022 summer session. What made this year unique were the number of exciting activities that pushed the boundaries of extreme. Thirteen blind and low vision students, ages 10 to 17, embarked on an adventurous shared journey, enjoying outings and events that were educational, challenging, and fun! This included indoor skydiving at IFly, kayaking on the Skokie Lagoon, a golf clinic in partnership with the United States Adaptive Golf Association, a tour of 35 th Street Studios, a law symposium with a mock trial, improv lessons with the world famous Second City Training Center, adaptive archery, and chess!

The independent living skills that have always been a staple since the Program’s inception, made a big return this summer. Competencies learned included cooking, cleaning, self-advocacy, budgeting, shopping, and orientation and mobility. These newly acquired abilities helped establish the foundation needed for lifelong independent living. The summer concluded with a trip to Six Flags Great America where the students enjoyed riding roller coasters and reveling in extreme thrills!

It’s not too early to think about next year’s Pathways Program. If you’re interested in volunteering or have ideas about activities our participants would enjoy, contact Dustin Cather at [email protected].

Image Description: Photo of participants indoor skydiving, playing chess, and one of the lawyers that spoke at the Pathways Law Symposium.

BSA VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Paul Kobasa has been a volunteer at BSA for several years and during the pandemic jumped right ...
08/09/2022

BSA VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Paul Kobasa has been a volunteer at BSA for several years and during the pandemic jumped right in as one of our virtual reading volunteers, working from home over the phone to assist BSA clients. Usually these projects may include email correspondence, on-line shopping, job search activities, apartment searches and other internet research. Paul also helped clients with other tasks that needed to be done remotely like completing Census information, finding Covid testing locations, and vaccination clinics. Paul was greatly inspired by his father and aunt, who were both blind, and the agency that provided them assistance. After retiring from World Book Encyclopedia as Editor-in-Chief, he wanted to find a similar organization and he found his way to BSA! Paul finds his volunteer experience very rewarding and is happy to now be able to work in person again. Paul is also a classical music enthusiast and enjoys attending many performances at The Lyric Opera and Joffrey Ballet. He is Cat Dad to Tamino and Hanna and also volunteers for The Gerber-Hart Library.

If you are interested in becoming a BSA volunteer or learning more about BSA opportunities, please contact Volunteer Manager Marty Kummetz at [email protected].

Image Description: Headshot of Paul Kobasa

Yesterday afternoon, BSA had a very informative presentation with Cheryl Lipton from the Center for Disability and Elder...
07/28/2022

Yesterday afternoon, BSA had a very informative presentation with Cheryl Lipton from the Center for Disability and Elder Law, who talked to clients about the legal services they can provide for qualified Cook County residents and the importance of preparing your Power of Attorney for health and property and Living Will documents. For more info, go to their website at: cdelaw.org

Image Description: Senior woman in glasses working with male lawyer, looking at paperwork.

BSA clients and volunteers enjoy the delightful sounds of the Grant Park Orchestra rehearsing for their evening concert ...
07/21/2022

BSA clients and volunteers enjoy the delightful sounds of the Grant Park Orchestra rehearsing for their evening concert at Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.


Image Description: Clients and Volunteers seated and smiling at the camera; the stage with performers and sign that says "docent talk"; sign at the entrance that says Today - Public Event: Grant Park Music Festival; photo of conductor and the orchestra in action.

If you (or someone you know) need assistance reading mail, paperwork, instruction manuals, online materials, college cou...
07/14/2022

If you (or someone you know) need assistance reading mail, paperwork, instruction manuals, online materials, college coursework or other visual information, BSA can help! We offer a one-on-one reading service for individuals who are blind or have low vision at our office in the Chicago loop or remotely via telephone from your own home. To receive this and other free services from BSA, call 312-236-0808 or email [email protected] and mention that you are interested in becoming a client. More info on our other programs on our website:
http://www.blindserviceassociation.org/programs.html

Image description: BSA client and volunteer meeting in one of BSA's "reading rooms", processing mail together - pile of mail and laptop on a long table between them.

Wondering how to be an effective and safe "human guide" for someone who is blind or has low vision?  This infomation can...
07/13/2022

Wondering how to be an effective and safe "human guide" for someone who is blind or has low vision? This infomation can come in handy whether you are a volunteer in the blind and low vision community, have a relative or friend who is blind, or if you see someone that may benefit from your guidance. Always ASK the person if they would like assistance first!

1) Read these tips from Vision Loss Resources:
https://visionlossresources.org/resources/how-to-be-a-guide/
2) Sign up with BSA to be a sighted guide for our volunteer walking opportunities - training is included!

Image Description: Man with white cane holds above the elbow of woman he is walking with down an office hallway.

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED at BSA!  - Have you been considering becoming a volunteer or know someone who would be great? BSA need...
07/12/2022

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED at BSA! - Have you been considering becoming a volunteer or know someone who would be great? BSA needs regular volunteers for in-person, outdoor activities assisting as sighted guides and for one-on-one reading one-on-one with clients over the phone and in-person. Training and orientation are provided and required. Please contact us at [email protected] or 312-236-0808 for more information about this opportunity or to sign up for the next Volunteer Orientation and Training.

Image Description: Bulletin board background with cut out letters pinned with tacks that spell VOLUNTEER.

It's World Chocolate Day!  Enjoy this delectable treat or read about a Canadian chocolate company that created more acce...
07/08/2022
Braille boxes, easy open lids: the past year's push for accessible packaging | CBC News

It's World Chocolate Day! Enjoy this delectable treat or read about a Canadian chocolate company that created more accessible packaging and boxes of chocolates with braille labelling and legend.
https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/braille-boxes-accessible-packaging-1.6296659

The move by Canadian chocolate maker Purdys to offer a braille box for blind and partially sighted people is one of several campaigns this year by companies trying to make their products more accessible to people with disabilities. But experts say the movement is painfully small compared with the ne...

Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. CST, Blind Service Association offers "Coffee Chat", a casual weekly chat via teleconferen...
07/06/2022

Every Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. CST, Blind Service Association offers "Coffee Chat", a casual weekly chat via teleconference for BSA senior members to connect with each other, exchange ideas and share resources. It's kind of like how we'd be sitting in the BSA kitchen or office just chatting before or after appointments or programs. This is an opportunity to make new friends or keep in touch with old friends as well as find out what's happening at BSA. Conference line # is in our client newsletter or call BSA.

Image Description: the hands of two people hold coffee mugs.

Happy Fourth of July, we hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday!  Here are some tips on how you can help dogs w...
07/05/2022

Happy Fourth of July, we hope that you have a safe and enjoyable holiday!

Here are some tips on how you can help dogs who feel frightened or anxious by fireworks (or thunder) from the Guide Dog Foundation: https://www.guidedog.org/GD/caresupport/SeasonalCare/Dogsfireworks

Description: Golden retriever with US flag in mouth.

To celebrate the 100th meeting of BSA's Stress Management, we hosted "Stress Management Live", getting the group togethe...
06/24/2022

To celebrate the 100th meeting of BSA's Stress Management, we hosted "Stress Management Live", getting the group together in person, some members meeting for the very first time! This program is led by BSA volunteer and psychologist, Dr. Don Baird, who has also written a book on how he's learned to use humor to cope with life’s challenges called "Suffering is Highly Overrated". The group enjoyed lunch, Dr. Don's words of wisdom and a reading from his book, plus musical interludes and entertainment. Taking pleasure in music is one of the key stress relief tactics that the group discusses weekly, so the playlist of the afternoon included all the past songs that had been discussed. All participants received a BSA tote bag filled with Dr. Don's book on digital cartridge, two gratitude stones (one to keep and one to give to someone else), a stress ball, and a delicious cookie!

The regular Stress Management class meets on Wednesdays at 1pm Central via teleconference every week.

Image Descriptions: Clients sit at long tables in a conference room; Chris Foreman and Sharon Hadley perform, a shot of the goodie bags and contents.

Accessible Pharmacy and the Chicago Lighthouse present a FREE Eye Drop Webinar WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 from 12:00PM TO 1:00PM...
06/17/2022
EYE DROP WEBINAR - Welcome to Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind. We are Glad that You Are Here

Accessible Pharmacy and the Chicago Lighthouse present a FREE Eye Drop Webinar WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22 from 12:00PM TO 1:00PM ET, discussing tips and techniques for blind and low vision eye drop users. Go here to register and get more info: https://www.accessiblepharmacy.com/eye-drop-webinar/

On June 22, 2022, please join us as we discuss tips and techniques for blind eye drop users. Speakers will include experts from The Chicago Lighthouse and Accessible Pharmacy Services for the Blind. This webinar will have a live ASL interpreter, and closed captioning. If you are unable to attend, st...

Want to learn more about an easy, relaxing exercise "that will maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be...
06/15/2022
The Health Benefits of Tai Chi - Harvard Health Publishing - Harvard Health

Want to learn more about an easy, relaxing exercise "that will maintain strength, flexibility, and balance, and could be the perfect activity for the rest of your life"? Then JOIN US every Tuesday morning at 10:00 am CST as Tai Chi Instructor Dennis Newport gently guides BSA clients into breathing and movement exercises via our teleconference line. Read more about all of the amazing health benefits Tai Chi can provide in this Harvard Health article: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-health-benefits-of-tai-chi

Image: People standing with tai chi poses in an indoor studio

Tai chi is gentle and not strenuous. Benefits have been shown to include a positive effect on muscle strength, flexibility, and balance, and it can be practiced by people in nearly any state of hea...

Address

17 N State St, Ste 1050
Chicago, IL
60602

Washington/ Wabash Brown Line & Green Line Station, Lake Red Line Station

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 7pm
Tuesday 9am - 5pm
Wednesday 9am - 5pm
Thursday 9am - 7pm
Friday 9am - 5pm

Telephone

(312) 236-0808

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Super pumped to have English National Ballet performing Akram Khan's Creature at the Harris Theater the weekend of February 24-26. Audio Described performance on Saturday, February 26th for the 2PM engagement! Use promo code HTACCESS for 20% off all ticket levels on this performance date! https://fb.me/e/2oMlD3wWQ

Questions about accessibility at the Harris Theater? Email [email protected] or call 312.334.2421

ID: A hunched shadowy blue profile of a man with left hand spread open and pressed again a seemingly rippling , shattered glass window. The man is bathed in shades of yellow, pinks and orange as he stares intently at something off camera
Third blind man scales Mount Everest!
For my birthday I am raising money for the Blind Service Association with some matching dollars. Help out at:
https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=3194484470668794&substory_index=1&id=100003218181906
One of our program coordinators Susie recently shared about finding a new way to connect with elders.

"Ms. Edna shared with me that one of the most difficult things for her is that Blind Service Association is closed. Normally, she goes once a week and is read to for two hours! I told her I’d be happy to read to her during this time, and I called and read for about half an hour. Usually, she’s a busy woman and not someone I normally get to spend too much time with, but the reading led into good conversation, as well. She was really kind and appreciative of the effort. I’ve read with one other elder now, as well, and plan to incorporate it more as a way of staying connected."

Have you found a creative way to stay in touch? Whether you reach out over the phone or through mail, hearing from a friend has a deeply meaningful impact in the lives of Chicago's elders who are aging alone! Always and especially now.
Chicagoans you know you're a foodie town. Now you're a VIP Foodie town with 95 accessible menus. Way cool!
Thanks to the Blind Service Association for working with our staff as we work to create our low vision tour guide; just one of the ways that the Museum works to be inclusive for all.

Photo by Lauren Meranda
We look forward to learning more about your organization.
The Museum recently gave out first low vision tour for the Blind Service Association, the tour featured audio descriptions of images and objects from our exhibitions, a collection of tactile objects to interact with, and oral histories to listen to.

Inclusivity is crucial to our work and we were happy to learn from the BSA and our audio descriptionist Victor Cole about the best practices for low vision guests, we look forward to working with them again in the future!
Hello,

I'm Dr. Cristel, one of the Ear, Nose and Throat residents at UIC hospital. We are conducting a research project on blind individuals sense of beauty and are seeking 10 people with vision levels of "Count Fingers" or 20/400 to participate.

The study is simply having a model come into a room and sit across from the blind individual without any interaction and then the blind individual will provide a beauty rating from 1-10.

This study is approved by an institutional review board. Participants will receive a $25 starbucks gift card for their time, which would be about 2 hours only. Please contact me directly if you are interested or know someone that might be interested! We'd really appreciate any help with this research project!
Looking for something fun, educational & (best of all) FREE to do? Mark your calendar for the Blind Service Association Vision Expo & Resource Fair! Our very own Chris Retzke will be demonstrating the newest low vision aids.
This event is FREE and open to the public. Share widely.
Students from Pathways, a six-week program sponsored by the Blind Service Association, couldn’t believe the amount of garbage and how wide it was spread along the beach.

By the end of their cleanup they could see or feel the results, and were excited about the difference they made!
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