- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 1, 2006

Evidently, 20 years on the job just wasn’t enough. Nearly 15 years after leaving Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind (CLB), Victoria Hamilton has returned as program and services case manager for the Washington nonprofit that has offered help to the area’s visually impaired since 1900.

Mrs. Hamilton worked for the organization from 1971 to 1991, including stints as a social worker and rehabilitation director. Now she works at CLB’s Riverdale office, focusing on new cases that come to the organization.

“Coming back to the Lighthouse, dealing with visually impaired clients, was very important to me,” said Mrs. Hamilton, who is a licensed counselor and associate social worker.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, N.C., and said she is pursuing a master’s degree from Bowie State University.

Before her return to Columbia Lighthouse, Mrs. Hamilton worked as a contract investigator for Omniplex Investigative Services in Chantilly. She also worked for the Maryland Department of Human Resources in Leonardtown, Md., as a family service worker in the state’s foster care system.

Mrs. Hamilton, who returned to CLB Aug. 15, said her job isn’t any easier this time around.

According to a 2004 National Eye Institute study, more than 180,000 blind or visually impaired people live in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The organization is able to help about 5,000, or less than 3 percent of those cases per year, according to its Web site.

The nonprofit offers a range of services, including training on the latest technology such as screen magnifiers, Braille embossers or portable note takers. It also offers children’s services and career assistance.

At Columbia Lighthouse, Mrs. Hamilton said she plans to develop programs tailored to each person in hopes of helping them reach their full potential.

“Making an impact is really being able to listen to a person. You have to be able to listen to where the person comes from,” she said.

It is also important for family members to take part in the education of the blind, Mrs. Hamilton said, explaining that “the family is pretty much the support system.”

Lighthouse leaders said they are glad have Mrs. Hamilton back.

“Victoria is key to ensuring our clients reach their full potential,” said Ellen Farnham, vice president of business development and programs.

Mrs. Hamilton, 62, live in Mitchellville, Md., with her husband, Rodney.

Jonathan Swigart

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