PhoneFaith for the Blind is a ministry operated out of the Beacon Light Seventh-day Adventist Church in Richmond, California, and directed by Dr. Dexter Thomas, an adjunct seminary professor, pastor, author, and evangelist who has been blind since birth. Ninety percent of the non-profit organization's staff members are blind.
More than seven million visually-impaired individuals in the United States face many challenges. Being blind in a sighted world immediately places them at a disadvantage, and misinformation about the visually challenged in the public sector adds another layer of challenge. The result can mean a lack of confidence, loneliness, and even depression. In addition, many visually-challenged people have other issues to face such as multiple impairments or learning difficulties.
PhoneFaith encourages, educates, inspires, and connects the blind community. They have helped instill competence, confidence, and courage in participants so they eventually find themselves not only capable, but believing they are capable of making a contribution to the world around them.
Due to mobility issues, isolation, and lack of confidence, the visually-challenged often spend a great deal of time indoors. Many blind people believe that the loss or lack of vision means giving up their independence, traveling and mobility. This causes blind individuals to become sedentary, sitting at home and doing nothing. Such inactivity leads to obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. PhoneFaith address these health challenges with weekly phone conference from a health professional to talk about and answer questions about health issues prevalent in the blind community and provide easy-to-implement lifestyle tips as well as nutrition information. PhoneFaith also partners with local agencies such as National Blind Camp in Northern California and Bay Area Outreach Recreation Program that specialize in outdoor activities for the physically challenged and provide an audio-based, descriptive weekly exercise plan over the phone and on CDs.
Since its founding, PhoneFaith has had much success in projects funded through grants and donations. In December 2011 a grant was awarded to increase braille literacy among the blind. Since then a braille reading book club has been established to continue every fourth Saturday. Another success story has been the phone line conference calling that exceeds 10,000 calls per month. Conferences include health and wellness education, computer classes, employment, outdoor activities for the blind, and social connections which include sharing success stories and experiences. The program is solely funded by monthly, quarterly, and annual donors.
By providing weekly live and recorded programming, PhoneFaith hopes to be a one-stop spot for a connected community; professional development; emotional, physical and financial wholeness; and encouragement that will foster growth and development among the visually-challenged.