Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Golden 1

Society for the Blind recently received $10,000 from Golden 1 Credit Union to provide Braille literacy for children in Sacramento and across Northern California who are blind or have vision loss.

“Today, less than 10 percent of children with vision loss are literate,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “They are not learning Braille and are unable to read, write and comprehend. By third grade they are significantly behind their sighted peers, and 50 percent of high school students who are blind drop out before graduating. Literacy is key to improving academic outcomes and pointing these children toward college and careers. We are grateful to Golden 1 Credit Union for helping us fill this gap so children with vision loss can be successful and independent when they grow up.”

The grant will allow Society for the Blind to provide Braille literacy classes, instruction materials and training in assistive devices for up to 100 new children who are blind or have low vision in elementary through high schools across the region. Through Society for the Blind’s After-School Academy for children from first grade through high school, students will learn Grade 1 Braille, including the alphabet, spelling, numbers, reading and writing. Middle and high school students who pass Grade 1 Braille will learn Grade 2 Braille, which includes shortened or contracted words as well as the Nemeth Code-Braille for math and science. Students also will receive subject-based tutoring based on an initial assessment upon entering the program.

“As we continue to learn more about the short- and long-term educational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our vulnerable populations, we know it is especially important to provide support to organizations that enrich the minds of future generations,” said Erica Taylor, vice president of communications and community relations. “Golden 1 is inspired by the mission of Society for the Blind, and we are honored to help them continue to serve their community.”

For 67 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of Northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to donate, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The Golden 1 Credit Union Community Grant Program funds nonprofits serving communities in the Sacramento and Central valleys that are working to address children’s literacy and transition-age foster youth. In 2021, the program awarded grants to 33 nonprofits in California.  For more information, visit Golden1.com.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K From Union Bank

Society for the Blind recently received $15,000 from the MUFG Union Bank Foundation to provide alternative independent living and employment skills for youth and working-age adults with vision loss so they can continue their career paths or begin employment. The grant will fund the group’s employment services that include its core blindness skills program and its CareersPLUS program with tracks for youth and adults.

“Though unemployment skyrocketed during the pandemic, most people are surprised to hear that unemployment for people with vision loss has been a whopping 70 percent for decades,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “At Society for the Blind, we always say that people with vision loss can still do almost anything they want – they just have to adapt to do it another way. The same is true in the workplace. We are grateful to the MUFG Union Bank Foundation for helping us expand our employment training skills so we can raise the number of people with vision loss who are gainfully employed.”

Through its core blindness skills program, Society for the Blind offers orientation and mobility training to help people navigate with and without a white cane, computers and assistive technology training, Braille literacy, and alternative techniques for cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. Society for the Blind’s CareersPLUS program includes tracks for youth and adults, providing comprehensive, age-appropriate career readiness, career exploration activities, workshops and a mentor program for teens and young adults experiencing vision loss. Society for the Blind has been expanding its employment-readiness program for youth and working-age adults, even more rapidly when the pandemic hit and services became remote. In addition to its in-house programs, the group is now partnering with the Blind Institute of Technology in Colorado.

“Helping provide these adaptive skills greatly enhances the opportunities for success in career and life for these individuals,” said Ashley Abenoja-Bocek, MUFG Union Bank Foundation relationship manager for Northern California. “Additionally, this assists the business communities with developing qualified local talent to meet their growing needs.”

For 67 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The MUFG Union Bank Foundation strives to builder stronger communities around the world in providing financial and volunteer resources and business expertise in the areas of affordable housing, community economic and youth development, social services and environmental stewardship. Initiatives include strengthening diversity, inclusion and social justice programs in many communities served.

Society for the Blind Partners with Blind Institute of Tech to Help People Find Jobs

Society for the Blind in Sacramento and Blind Institute of Technology ™ (BIT) in Colorado are joining forces to create a new pathway for employment of people living with blindness or visual impairment. Both organizations are driven by the ultimate goal of full independence for people who are blind and visually impaired (BVI), which makes this a natural pairing.

BIT’s sole focus is employing BVI professionals in corporate America, placing them in positions on par with their education and skill level, through networking, education and workforce development. Society for the Blind is taking on the challenge of employment with its primary focus placed on providing people who are blind or visually impaired with the tools they need to attain employment and independence. The two forward-thinking organizations will pull their resources together to achieve the goal of significantly decreasing not only unemployment, but the underemployment epidemic that plagues professionals who are blind or visually impaired.

“For far too long, blindness organizations across the country have approached the unemployment epidemic amongst the blind and visually impaired in a siloed fashion, which has done nothing as evidenced by the same unemployment rate as 30 years ago when the ADA was passed. It is time to end the epidemic and put BVI professionals where they belong, in mainstream corporate America. I am super excited to be collaborating with a progressive leader like Society for the Blind and look forward to the impact we will make together,” said Mike Hess, BIT executive director.

“It is so important for blindness organizations like Society for the Blind to be creative and really make a difference in the employment opportunities for people living with low vision and blindness. I believe that collaborations allow us all to do more and be more effective, and that is why I am thrilled to be partnering with BIT. Working together, I believe we can truly move the needle on the rate of employment in a positive direction,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

By leveraging relationships built with its corporate partners, emphasizing workforce development and accessible technology, BIT strives to put its talented, corporate-ready professionals in the best possible position for success. BIT works with disability inclusive Fortune 500 industry giants across the country, placing professionals in all aspects of business, including IT, finance and operations, earning a median salary of $70,000 a year. For those candidates who have the technical aptitude but lack relevant certifications, the BIT Academy offers opportunities to achieve the training and certifications that help them to be competitive, such as its Salesforce Administration Certification Prep course. BIT is an authorized Salesforce training provider for people with disabilities.

Society for the Blind is the Sacramento region’s only comprehensive training and rehabilitation center serving people who are blind or have visual impairments. Serving 27 counties in northern California, Society for the Blind serves nearly 6,000 people impacted by vision loss or blindness each year through its Core Blindness Skills programs, a Low Vision Clinic and other supportive services and programs. In 2018, Society for the Blind established the CareersPLUS program in an effort to address the high unemployment rates among people with vision loss. In the past three years, more than 65 people have found employment and/or pursued college and vocational training through the CareersPLUS program. Society for the Blind is an authorized provider of employment services for the State of California Department of Rehabilitation.

To learn more about the two organizations, visit their websites at www.blindinstituteoftechnology.org and www.societyfortheblind.org.

Society for the Blind Celebrates Grand Opening of Annex

More than 130 guests celebrated the grand opening of Society for the Blind’s Carl R. Otto Annex earlier this month, an expansion of the nonprofit’s facility in Midtown that now includes a training center, senior teaching kitchen and dedicated music room. The event included performances by the music program, ribbon cutting, champagne toast and speeches by Vice Mayor Jeff Harris, Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen and California Department of Rehabilitation Director, Joe Xavier.

The annex is named after Carl Otto of Otto Construction, who passed away in 2007 and served on Society for the Blind’s board of directors. Otto led the initial campaign to renovate the building, and his company, Otto Construction, played a key role. His daughter, Allison Otto, is past president and current secretary of Society for the Blind’s board of directors and co-chaired the group’s Vision 2020 campaign to expand services for the more than 100,000 people with vision loss living in the greater Sacramento region. The campaign raised $4.5 million to complete the annex, serve the growing number of seniors in need of services to stay independent, empower clients through education and training, create an endowment, expand the onsite Low Vision Clinic and upgrade technology.

“We are grateful to the many people in the Sacramento region who contributed to the Vision 2020 campaign and are making it possible for the growing number of people living with vision loss to access our services, workshops and events,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The Otto Annex will increase our ability to serve more people who need to learn blindness skills and who are looking for fun social events with other people experiencing vision loss.”

For 66 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for nearly 6,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $20K from Wells Fargo for Seniors

Wells Fargo recently awarded Society for the Blind in Sacramento a $20,000 grant to provide education, training and assistive devices to 500 Sacramento-area seniors who are blind or have low vision. The funding will support the group’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 55 and older who have vision loss with alternative non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform daily tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase independence.

“With Sacramento’s rapidly growing senior population, requests for our services are higher than ever,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Thanks to Wells Fargo’s generous funding, we can provide even more seniors who are blind or have low vision with the support they need to age safely, preserve their independence and connect with their community.”

Society for the Blind is the sole provider of comprehensive rehabilitative services for people who are blind or have low vision throughout 27 counties in northern California. The group’s Senior IMPACT Project includes a monthly eight-day retreat that gives seniors an immersion experience to learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year. The project recently expanded services to the Asian community, offering a monthly support group for Asian language speakers.

“As our loved ones age, one of the highest priorities is to ensure they can navigate the world around them with dignity, even if they experience declines in health or mental and physical agility,” said Kären Woodruff, community relations associate manager, Wells Fargo. “Wells Fargo is proud to continue support for Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project, which provides tools for seniors facing changes in their vision or vision loss, allowing them to remain self-sufficient and independent into their golden years.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The Wells Fargo Foundation is the company’s primary philanthropic funding arm. As part of Wells Fargo’s long legacy of investing in community impact, the company has increased its philanthropic giving 25 times over the past 28 years. In 2018, Wells Fargo reached a new milestone of donating $444 million to directly benefit nearly 11,000 nonprofit organizations. To learn more, visit WellsFargo.com.

Society for the Blind Receives Grant to Expand Literacy for Kids

The ECMC Foundation’s GO! Program recently awarded Society for the Blind in Sacramento a $25,000 grant to expand its academic program for children who are blind or have low vision and increase their educational outcomes. Grant funding will help Society for the Blind provide Braille literacy classes, an After-School Academy and accessible STEM workshops through its CareersPLUS Youth Program that works to combat the 70 percent unemployment rate for people who are blind. The grant will help expand the program’s reach beyond high school to elementary and middle school students.

“Society for the Blind is truly grateful for this grant funding from ECMC Foundation,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Literacy is vital to improving the academic futures of visually impaired children, yet today less than 10 percent of children with vision loss are literate, meaning the majority cannot read, write or comprehend. This grant funding provides necessary programs to help kids succeed in school, college and career, and it helps us reach kids even earlier.”

More than half of high school students who are blind drop out before graduating, and without access to Braille education, they cannot read or communicate effectively, Roeseler said. Through literacy classes, assistive technology such as screen readers and video magnifiers, and accessible STEM workshops, Society for the Blind is improving academic outcomes for children and ensuring they can access the information they need to succeed, starting in elementary school.

Brenda Anderson, an employee from Mather-based ECMC, nominated Society for the Blind for the grant provided through ECMC’s affiliated organization ECMC Foundation.

“I am thrilled that Society for the Blind will be receiving this grant,” Anderson said. “Knowing that the dollars will be used to help students receive the specialized tutoring and Braille skills development they need so that they can continue to be educated and succeed is amazing.”

Celebrating its 65th anniversary this year, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for more than 5,000 youth, working-age adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

ECMC Foundation is a Los Angeles-based, nationally focused foundation whose mission is to inspire and to facilitate improvements that affect educational outcomes – especially among underserved populations – through evidence-based innovation. It is one of several affiliates under the ECMC Group enterprise based in Minneapolis. ECMC Foundation makes investments in two focus areas – college success and career readiness – and uses a spectrum of funding structures, including strategic grantmaking and program-related investments, to invest in both nonprofit and for-profit ventures. Working with grantees, partners and peers, ECMC Foundation’s vision is for all learners to unlock their fullest potential. For more information, visit ECMCFoundation.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Senator Lions Club for Device Lending Library

Society for the Blind staff members show Sacramento Senator Lions Club representatives the device lending library that the club helped to fund with a recent grant.

Society for the Blind received a $10,000 grant from the Sacramento Senator Lions Club to fund a device lending library in the organization’s Low Vision Clinic. The lending library will allow patients to borrow low vision devices such as hand-held magnifiers and portable electronic devices to determine if they are a good fit. These devices enlarge text or convert text to speech so people with vision loss can continue to read.

“Thanks to the Sacramento Senator Lions Club, our patients will now have access to vital assistive devices that allow them to maintain their independence,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We could not have established this much-needed lending library without this grant.”

Society for the Blind operates a full-time Low Vision Clinic in Sacramento and a satellite office in Roseville. It is one of the longest running community-based clinics in the region. The Low Vision Clinic provides care, vision rehabilitation, low vision devices and transportation assistance to more than 375 people each year. Clinics are staffed by three optometrists with special training in low-vision eye care and serve patients with cataracts, glaucoma, age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and other congenital and degenerative eye diseases. Clinic staff includes an occupational therapist who works with patients with some functional vision, teaching them techniques to use their remaining vision safely and effectively and providing training on assistive devices.

“The Senator Lions are pleased to make this gift in celebration of the Lions Club International Centennial,” said Senator Lion Vicky Brady, who coordinated the Centennial Gift. “Our longstanding dedication to assisting people with vision loss continues through this contribution to Society for the Blind.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyfortheBlind.org.

The Sacramento Senator Lions Club was chartered in Lions Clubs International in 1954. The Senator Lions Club belongs to District 4-C5 and resides in the Crocker Zone of the Sacramento Region. The club participates in local community service projects including sponsoring the UC Davis Children’s Hospital; providing meals, toys and clothes to the needy via their Salvation Army partners; sponsoring the Sacramento Zoo’s Sensory Garden and Fairytale Town’s Japanese Garden; and more. To learn more, visit SacramentoSenatorLions.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $10K from Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance

Seniors with vision loss in the Sacramento region will receive assistive tools and technology, thanks to a $10,000 grant from Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance. The grant will help fund Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase their independence.

“We are so grateful to Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance for providing vital assistive tools for seniors with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “This critical funding will provide tools like white canes and digital voice recorders so seniors losing their vision can stay independent and confident while living their lives to the fullest.”

The Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The Senior IMPACT Project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org.

The Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of health in the community through education, funding and volunteer support. For more information, visit SSVMSA.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $15K From Whitmire Family Foundation

Seniors with vision loss in the Sacramento region will have greater access to tools for independence, thanks to a $15,000 grant from M&M Whitmire Family Foundation in Roseville to Sacramento-based nonprofit Society for the Blind. The grant will help fund Society for the Blind’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people 55 and older with alternative, non-visual techniques and skills that enable them to perform day-to-day tasks and activities so they can maintain or increase their independence.

“As the senior population continues to grow rapidly in Sacramento, it is imperative that we provide services that help them stay as independent as possible,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “When seniors begin to lose vision, they are not only three times more likely to fall and experience injury, they often feel profound loneliness. This grant from the M&M Whitmire Family Foundation helps us ensure they have a support system so they can feel hope and possibility.”

The Senior IMPACT Project includes an eight-day retreat offered monthly at Society for the Blind that gives seniors an immersion experience where they learn alternative techniques and skills to travel safely, efficiently and independently. They practice alternative techniques and use adapted tools to perform tasks of daily living including cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance and more. They learn how to use the latest in assistive technology to operate computers and mobile devices for home, school and work, and they learn Braille. Participants receive individualized attention from instructors and mentors who are blind or low vision, and they have the opportunity to join in discussion groups with peers on issues around vision loss and participate in community activities.

For those unable to attend retreats, Society for the Blind sends instructors to their homes to teach skills and offer resources. The Senior IMPACT Project also includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org.

The M&M Whitmire Family Foundation’s purpose is to assist children in need and senior care within the Sacramento area. For more information, call (916) 660-0573.