GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. A peer support and education group has been steadily growing since forming in 2009, and their member make up might surprise you.
Tuesday afternoon at Naggy McGee's was the annual Christmas lunch and gift exchange, shared together by folks who have become more than just a group of friends.
"We've got some folks that can see shadows, we have folks who can't see anything at all, we've got legally blind, you just low vision," said project manager Cathy Johnston.
They formed in 2009 with just a handful of members, meeting every Tuesday. As they grew, they came up with a name for themselves: The Western Slope Visionaries.
If you're interested in the group, see below for a link to the Center for Independence.
"And we envisioned what we can accomplish and what anybody that has vision problems of any kind can join us and get help," said Margaret Williams. She is one of three originals still active in the group, and one of the majority of members suffering from age-related macular degeneration.
"We said we wanted to learn how to live. We wanted to learn how to adapt. Because there's nothing that i can't do, i just have to do it in a different way."
Members ranging in age from 30 to 91 meet not only to socialize, but to exchange tips and tricks that help them get through everyday life.
And when needed, be a shoulder to lean on.
"There's a lot of grief that goes along with vision loss," said Johnston. "I've literally seen the group stop and pull together and help a member that's having a rough time. Just literally and figuratively pull together and help them out."
They may not be able to see each other, but their bond is crystal clear.
"it's gotten to be a family," said Williams. "I thought several times 'I've learned pretty much everything i need.' Then i think...'no i can help somebody else.'"