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.

Lions Donate $150,000 to Society for the Blind

Society for the Blind recently received a Vision 2020 campaign donation of $150,000 from the Northern California Lions Sight Association (NCLSA) and the Lions Clubs International (LCIF) to support the expansion of the group’s Low Vision Clinic and training space for people who are blind or have low vision. NCLSA donated $75,000 to purchase equipment and vision testing devices for the clinic and secured an additional matching grant of $75,000 from LCIF to add an indoor orientation and mobility course.

“Lions Clubs across the world have a long history of supporting organizations that help people with vision loss, so we are deeply honored that the Lions chose to invest in Society for the Blind here in Sacramento,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “As the only comprehensive vision rehabilitation center in the Sacramento region, Society for the Blind is a critical resource for people who are blind or have low vision. The generosity of the regional and international Lions means that more people across California who are experiencing vision loss will have access to critical assessment and treatment.”

Society for the Blind’s Low Vision Clinic 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 a vision rehabilitation 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.

“It’s in our Lions Club DNA to help organizations like Society for the Blind,” said Douglas Wight, governor, Lions District 4-C5. “Across the world, we work to bring greater stability and independence to people with vision loss by providing services and supporting organizations that do this work.” 

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.

Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with more than 1.4 million members. The organization’s mission is to support the efforts of Lions clubs and partners in serving communities locally and globally, giving hope and impacting lives through humanitarian service projects and grants. For more information, visit LionsClubs.org.

Society for the Blind Breaks Ground on New Training Center

More than 70 guests attended the groundbreaking celebration of Society for the Blind’s new training center – an expansion of the Sacramento nonprofit’s current facility that also will include a teaching kitchen for seniors and a dedicated room for the music program. The April 8 event included refreshments, a program and a wall smashing ceremony.

“Monday night was the culmination of years of work as we raised funds to begin the final build-out of our training center, teaching kitchen and music room,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We are extraordinarily grateful to all of our donors who have helped this dream come to fruition, and we are excited to provide this additional space for training to empower people with vision loss to live their lives to the fullest.”

The expansion is part of Society for the Blind’s Vision 2020 campaign. There are more than 100,000 people with vision loss in the greater Sacramento region, but Society for the Blind is working at capacity serving more than 5,000 children, working-age adults and seniors each year. The campaign has raised more than $3.5 million to serve the growing number of seniors in need of services to stay independent, empower all clients through education and training, create an endowment, expand the onsite Low Vision Clinic, upgrade technology and complete the training center.         

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.

Society for the Blind Receives $25K From Whitmire Family Foundation

Society for the Blind recently received $25,000 from M&M Whitmire Family Foundation in Roseville to provide classes and training for seniors with vision loss and blindness. The grant will fund the group’s Senior IMPACT Project that empowers people age 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 independence.

“One out of four seniors in Sacramento is struggling financially, and most seniors in California do not have retirement accounts,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “As this rapidly growing population begins to lose their vision, programs like the Senior IMPACT Project can help these seniors achieve their goals and gain skills that allow them to stay independent. Thanks to this vital funding from M&M Whitmire Family Foundation, hundreds of seniors with vision loss can enjoy life 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 includes monthly peer support groups for English and Spanish speakers and workshops throughout the year.

“We are extremely honored to work with Society for the Blind on the ongoing support, programs and tools they provide to individuals and families with a wide variety of vision impairments,” said Jessika Cano, director of senior outreach, M&M Whitmire Family Foundation. “The Senior IMPACT Project is such a unique program that is much needed in our community, so we are humbled to be able to donate to such a program. Individuals with little to no vision have so much to offer our community and we are so glad that Society for the Blind is here locally to facilitate such training and support for individuals to maintain their independence and have their families keep flourishing in our community.” 

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.

M&M Whitmire Family Foundation’s mission is to assist children in need and senior care within the Sacramento area.

Society for the Blind Joins National Fitness Challenge

Society for the Blind, a Sacramento-based nonprofit serving blind and low vision people in Northern California, has received a grant from Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore Foundations to create opportunities for individuals to participate in the National Fitness Challenge, an initiative founded by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore. Society for the Blind is one of 17 organizations across the nation that is participating in the National Fitness Challenge and is using grant funding to offer adaptive yoga classes, walking groups, running clinics and other sports and fitness activities that can help people who are blind or low-vision to maximize healthy lifestyles. These activities will be offered over the course of eight months to help hundreds of youth and adults to increase physical fitness levels and live healthier lives.

“The goal of the National Fitness Challenge is to help people with visual disabilities to live more active lifestyles,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “The program launched during Blindness Awareness Month in October, and through May 31, 2019, will highlight what people with visual disabilities can do, rather than what they cannot do. We are lucky to live in an age where a person with vision loss can achieve most anything they set their mind to doing, and we are grateful to Anthem Blue Cross Foundation and CareMore Foundation for helping us to empower this year’s participants.”

This year’s challenge integrates technology and social media to inspire participants to set goals, create team environments and encourage leadership. Each participant has been provided with a Fitbit Flex 2 wearable – a universal way to measure activities, calories burned and number of steps taken. Participants also have the opportunity to utilize Fitbit Coach, which is a personalized training app that provides adaptive video workouts and audio coaching. Foundation grant funding is being used to provide Fitbits, fitness and nutritional instruction, performance prizes as well as technical and financial support for all participants.

“Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety,” said Ricardo Young, CareMore Health Medical Director. “We are proud to support members of the Society for the Blind through our collaboration with the National Fitness Challenge, and to create access to activities supporting healthier individuals and stronger communities.”

More than half of those who are blind or low vision in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical fitness routine, mostly due to barriers to accessible fitness or misconceptions about their abilities. Individuals of all abilities should have equal opportunities to engage in activities that improve health outcomes, so the National Fitness Challenge aims to increase access to fitness and health for blind and low vision people.

“Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is committed to removing barriers and increasing access to critical programs and services that help individuals and communities to lead healthier lives,” said Dr. Barsam Kasravi, Interim Anthem Blue Cross Medicaid Plan President. “We are proud of our Foundation’s ongoing support of people with visual disabilities and are confident that this support will go a long way in helping Californians to improve their overall wellness while enjoying the physical and emotional benefits of exercise and group sports.”

Since 2011, the parent Foundation of Anthem Blue Cross and CareMore has provided $1.3 million in grant funding to U.S. Association of Blind Athletes for the National Fitness Challenge initiative and has impacted thousands of Americans with visual disabilities by partnering with 40 different agencies across the country. To learn more about the National Fitness Challenge, visit www.usaba.org/NationalFitnessChallenge.

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 more than 5,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information: SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The Foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to healthcare challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program that provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges, as well as its Volunteer Time Off and Dollars for Doers community service programs. ®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.

The CareMore Foundation is the philanthropic arm of CareMore Health, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Anthem, Inc. Together, with local, regional and national organizations, the CareMore Foundation works to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in the communities that CareMore serves. CareMore Foundation funding is focused on strategic initiatives working to address and provide innovative solutions for complex health conditions like diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and congestive heart failure, and those promoting prevention and healthy aging. It also supports programs and initiatives addressing social determinants and barriers to quality care.  CareMore Foundation also promotes the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative with five areas of focus: Healthy Heart, Cancer Prevention, Healthy Maternal Practices, Type 2 Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Active Lifestyle.

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.

Sac’s Society for the Blind to Compete in National Fitness Challenge

Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind is one of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that are competing in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors will provide more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants are Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers, and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Together, we want to ensure that those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come from a sedentary lifestyle.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind will be working with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants will also become more aware of opportunities in their community.

“Society for the Blind is honored and excited to again be a part of the National Fitness Challenge,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “This partnership with USABA and Anthem raises awareness and, more importantly, participation of people with vision loss in health and fitness activities. We look forward to friendly challenges among our fellow participating agencies as we increase the physical fitness and overall health and wellness of our participants.”

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: www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information: www.usaba.org, www.twitter.com/USABA or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information: www.twitter.com/AskAnthem, www.twitter.com/AnthemBC_News or www.facebook.com/AskAnthem.