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Blind Like Scent, Feel of Sherman Gardens

April 24, 1987|ELLEN APPEL

The Orange County Center of the Braille Institute chose the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona del Mar for two luncheons honoring its volunteers.

It could have held a single event in a larger facility, said center director Wanda Marshall, "but Sherman Gardens is one of our best friends."

The gardens hold a special joy for the blind: Its Discovery Garden emphasizes touch and scent, offering the blind a variety of textures and aromas.

Gardens director Wade Roberts said the Corsican mint, pineapple sage and curry plants have distinctive scents. He cited the lamb's ear for its unusually soft leaves. "Children love this area because they get to touch everything," he said.

On Tuesday, 60 institute volunteers were feted at the gardens. Sixty volunteers had been feted there the previous Tuesday.

In a setting of Easter lilies and lush greenery, volunteers were treated to chicken florentine with rice pilaf, fruit garnish and strawberry mousse dessert. Table centerpieces were spring bouquets of chrysanthemums, daisies and carnations.

As guests sipped coffee, volunteer coordinator Sue Bonnard presented Jill Roberts, Ruth Dunn, Emma Fetchen and Wade Roberts with awards for outstanding service.

Afterward, volunteers from the institute applauded volunteers from the gardens who had prepared, cooked and served lunch.

The Braille Institute provides services for the blind, including a Braille library of books and magazines.

Tom Callister, a member of the center's advisory board, said that because few people can read Braille, actors have recorded books on tape for the library.

Jill Roberts, 19, a volunteer in the youth program, works with children aged 5 to 12. "We teach children to be independent--to tie their shoes, fasten a seat belt and cross the street," she said.

The institute's youth coordinator, John Parks, said Jill (no relation to Wade Roberts) attends Cypress College full-time, works 20 hours a week and has found time to donate more than 250 hours to the institute since June.

Some volunteers, like Diane Scott and Ruth Dunn, are blind. Both are members of the center's speakers' bureau.

Dr. James Chadbourne, director of educational services, said the Braille Institute has 2,000 volunteers nationwide. They serve as drivers, recreational and educational aides, tutors, sighted guides and visitors who read to blind people in their homes.

Richard and Pat Bonadio of Newport Beach were top bidders at a recent benefit at the Disneyland Hotel on behalf of the Orange County chapter of Make-A-Wish Foundation. The couple paid $1,350 for an Easter egg signed by President and Mrs. Reagan.

"We sent the President a letter asking him to decorate the egg," said Gay Weeks, executive director of the foundation located in Newport Beach. "We were thrilled to get it back with their autographs."

The egg also featured a hand-drawn image of the American Flag.

Estimated proceeds from the event, sponsored by Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel, were $18,000.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization that grants the favorite wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses.

Tickets were $100 per person.

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