Imagine a world where you are not reading this article as you normally do. In fact, you are not able to see it at all. What if you were not able to see anything at all? What would you do?

Dining in the Dark offers a first-hand experience of what it is like to eat a meal completely in the dark as a way to help people understand what it is like to have no vision — to live in a world completely blind.

As guests arrive to the cocktail party, they can participate in a silent auction, and listen to The Equinox Orchestra perform live. Afterwards, guests will enter a low light black box to give their eyes time to adjust to the darkness. One by one, they are called in, and escorted by S.W.A.T. team members wearing night vision goggles.

Guests are seated at their tables, and have to find their napkins, silverware, wine glasses, bread baskets all in the dark. The S.W.A.T. team act as servers and bring out dinners and drink refills. At the end of the dinner, the lights slowly turn on, and guests find themselves seeing the disarray of the food everywhere, and discover what was their actual menu.

“It is first-hand what it actually feels like to experience a dinner as a person with no vision capabilities,” said Marianne Ganem-Poppell, president of the Savannah Master Calendar and volunteer with the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision.

Ganem-Poppell’s mother is legally blind. When her mother first learned of the diagnosis, she came across the center when they were located on Drayton St.

“Later, I met Leslie Key, marketing director of the center, and knew I wanted to be involved,” she said. “The center offers so many services to people who have vision impairment. Most people feel like their life is over but the center gives them the opportunity to actually learn to live with the diagnosis.”

Ganem-Poppell and her partner Kendra DeMoura have now partnered to create Good Cause Marketing, which takes their event planning skills to the next level to help non-profits like the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision with events like Dining in the Dark.

“These events are so important for the everyday person to experience what it is really like what other people actually go through,” said Ganem-Poppel. “This is just one night, two hours, one meal. Someone who is blind has to learn to this day in & day out. It is the most ’eye opening’ experience. Events like this bring the community together for great networking as well. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to meet like-minded philanthropy folks in our community.”

Ganem-Poppell said the best way to get involved is to get out from behind the desk, get off the couch and get to know people, and listen to what they are saying.

“We have so many incredibly giving people & wonderful organizations in our community.”

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