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.

Society for the Blind Expands Onsite Retail Store Through New Partnership

Sacramento region residents with vision loss will have greater access to low-vision and blindness technology and products thanks to a new partnership between Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind and North State Assistive Technology in Chico that began Feb. 1. Through the partnership, Society for the Blind’s onsite retail store at 1238 S Street in Sacramento is now open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and will include weekend and evening appointments. The store, now called North State Assistive Technology at Society for the Blind, offers an expanded collection of assistive technology products with better pricing, in-home delivery and set-up, training and online shopping. For more information, visit SocietyForTheBlind.org/Store.

“This partnership ensures a one-of-a-kind retail store for our region that continues to offer products and devices for people with vision loss while also expanding to provide even better service to the many Sacramento region residents who are learning how to achieve fulfilling lives with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

The expanded store features products and devices for people with low vision and those with no functional vision, including canes, talking clocks and calculators, kitchen products, and various video imaging and optical reader devices.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to bring more products and services to people living with low vision and blindness throughout all of Northern California,” said Cory Hanosh, owner, North State Assistive Technology.

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.

North State Assistive Technology is an industry leader and statewide resource for products, technology assessments and training on devices for people living with vision loss. For more information, visit NorthStateAT.com.

Society for the Blind Wraps Up National Fitness Challenge, Finishes 7th

More than 30 kids and adults with vision loss across the Sacramento region came together in November to learn Paralympic sports at Society for the Blind in Sacramento. The all-day event was the grand finale to Society for the Blind’s participation in the National Fitness Challenge sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes and Anthem Foundation. The Paralympic event included clinics in rowing, golf, judo and goalball, as well as lunch and presentations by athletes leading the clinics.

“This was a really exciting day as we had kids as young as 10 and seniors up to age 85 learning favorite Paralympic sports and discovering ways to stay active and competitive with vision loss,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “This was such a fun way to wrap up our hard work in the National Fitness Challenge.”

Society for the Blind finished seventh in the challenge out of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that competed 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 provided 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 were Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this past 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 worked with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants became more aware of opportunities in their community.

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.

Society for the Blind Launches Mobile Low-Vision Services and Vision 2020 Campaign

Society for the Blind is launching mobile low-vision services as part of its effort to meet the growing need for low-vision care in outlying counties throughout Northern California. The mobile clinic was donated by VSP Global, whose mission is to increase access to eye care. The mobile clinic services officially launched today at an event where VSP Global handed over keys to the donated van that will carry the donated mobile eye equipment across the region. Guests at the event heard from Society for the Blind optometrists and other representatives and had the opportunity to view the mobile equipment up close. Patient exams took place all morning.

The launch also kicked off the public phase of Society for the Blind’s Vision 2020 campaign that aims to raise $5 million by 2020 to expand services across the region as the need for low-vision eye care continues to rise. The campaign has raised $3 million toward its efforts to build capacity to reach more rural areas, expand services within the onsite Low Vision Clinic, update infrastructure and launch an endowment.

“There are 100,000 people with low vision living in the Sacramento area, but Society for the Blind is working at capacity serving 6,000 children, adults and seniors each year,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Through this donation of the mobile clinic and equipment, we can bring our Low Vision Clinc to people in some of the most rural communities in Northern California who would not otherwise be able to travel to Sacramento. This is an example of partnerships we need to make Vision 2020 a reality.”

The van will transport the equipment and the Society for the Blind eye care professionals across the region. VSP Global also donated the mobile low-vision eye exam equipment that will make it possible to expand access to eye care. The mobile clinic will begin services in Sacramento to meet the needs of a long waitlist of patients in the city, and by end of the year will begin traveling up the Highway 99 corridor to bring care to the Redding and Yuba areas. Through the clinic, patients will have access to a Society for the Blind optometrist providing low-vision exams, an occupational therapist and an instructor for in-home trainings. Staff also will conduct outreach to optometrists in the areas where the van is serving.

“VSP Global is honored to support Society for the Blind and their optometrists in increasing access to eye care for those with low vision throughout Northern California,” said Les Passuello, senior vice president at VSP Global and Society for the Blind board member. “We look forward to seeing the new opportunities that Society for the Blind is able to create for individuals living with low vision or blindness.”

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 to the Vision 2020 campaign, visit www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

As a doctor-governed company, VSP Global® exists to create value for members and opportunities for VSP network doctors. VSP Global’s complementary businesses include VSP® Vision Care, the only national not-for-profit vision benefits company, which provides access to eye care for its 84 million members around the world through a network of 40,000 eye doctors; Marchon® Eyewear, Inc., one of the world’s largest designers, manufacturers and distributors of high quality eyewear and sunwear; VSP Optics Group, industry leaders in ophthalmic technology and lab services, providing custom lens solutions for the vision and lifestyle needs of patients; Eyefinity®, the eye care industry’s largest electronic health records and practice management software company, and VSP Omni-Channel Solutions, which creates connected consumer experiences designed to strengthen the relationship between VSP members and their eye doctors. To date, VSP network doctors have provided eye exams and eyewear at no-cost to over a million people in need through a partnership with VSP Global’s Eyes of Hope®.

Society for the Blind Receives $20K From US Bank

US Bank recently gave $20,000 to Society for the Blind in Sacramento to help fund its job-readiness programs for youth and adults with low or no vision.

“The unemployment rate is 70 percent for people with vision loss, so we are especially grateful to US Bank for acknowledging this gap and helping to fund our programs that will help youth and adults with low or no vision land good jobs,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

Society for the Blind’s job-readiness programs assist transition-age youth and working-age adults in career planning, setting and meeting educational goals, job placement and coaching. Programs include job exploration counseling and work-based learning experiences. Participants with little or no work experience learn workplace readiness skills and are placed in internships prior to career exploration.

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 www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Society for the Blind Telephone Reading Service Expands to Humboldt Area

Society for the Blind and Reading Service of the Redwoods staff work together in the Arcata recording booth.

Reading Service of the Redwoods will continue to operate for residents of Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties who have low vision when it joins Society for the Blind’s Access News telephone reading service in Sacramento. Beginning January 1, 2017, Society for the Blind will operate the service for residents of those counties who are blind, have low vision or are unable to read print materials due to illness or disabilities.

“We are delighted that Society for the Blind is able to incorporate our long-standing service to the Humboldt community into their Access News telephone reader service so we can still bring them local news,” said Joan Sikkens, executive director of Reading Service of the Redwoods, who will be retiring at the end of December. “This truly shows the power of collaboration.”

Sikkens, Doug Rose and a team of volunteers created Reading Service of the Redwoods in 1998, and the program reaches 200 people. Funded in part through a grant from the California State Braille and Talking Book Library, Society for the Blind’s Access News Program has been serving people with vision loss and other reading challenges for 20 years. Access News reaches 2,000 listeners each year.

“People who are blind or have low vision can feel very isolated,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “To be able to call Access News and hear a live voice giving local and regional news and information helps people stay connected.”

Volunteers in Humboldt, Mendocino and Del Norte counties will continue to record newspapers and local publications, but listeners also will be able to hear more regional and national publications as part of Access News.

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 26-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 www.SocietyfortheBlind.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $10K From City of Roseville

The City of Roseville’s Citizens’ Benefit Fund has granted $10,000 to Society for the Blind in Sacramento to support its Roseville Low Vision Clinic and provide transportation for Roseville seniors with vision challenges to attend workshops and retreats.

“Transportation is the number one barrier that people living with low vision or blindness face when pursuing resources, instruction and support, especially crossing county lines,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We are so grateful to the City of Roseville for helping us keep our doors open at our Roseville Low Vision Clinic and helping us make sure residents have transportation to our workshops and retreats in Sacramento.”

Society for the Blind’s satellite Roseville Low Vision Clinic is open two days a week at 1830 Sierra Gardens Drive, but with this grant plans to increase its hours. Last year, the Roseville clinic saw 151 patients and had a month-long waiting list. This year, staff expects to see 300. The grant also will provide more than 400 rides for Roseville residents ages 55 and up to attend Society for the Blind’s workshops and retreats in Sacramento. The organization has four upcoming events, including a health and wellness seminar in July and retreats in August, September and October. For more information about the Roseville Low Vision Clinic, contact Chelsea Gray at cgray@societyfortheblind.org. For more information about transportation services, contact Pat Duffy at pduffy@societyfortheblind.org.

This is the 23rd year that the City of Roseville has awarded grants from the Citizens’ Benefit Fund, which was established with funds generated from interest earned on the invested proceeds from the sale of the former Roseville Community Hospital with the purpose of improving the quality of life for the citizens of Roseville. Since 1994, the City of Roseville has awarded $14.9 million to local nonprofits. The Roseville Grants Advisory Commission, consisting of City Council-appointed Roseville citizens, annually reviews grant applications and makes recommendations of grant awards to the Roseville City Council. For more information about the Roseville Grants Advisory Commission and city grant funds, visit www.roseville.ca.us/grants.

For 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 rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-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 www.societyfortheblind.org.

 

Society for the Blind Named Rehab Organization of the Year

Society for the Blind staff hold an award for Rehab Organization of the Year.

Society for the Blind in Sacramento recently accepted the award for Rehabilitation Organization of the Year by the Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired. The award is given each year to an organization that has demonstrated exceptional commitment and service to the field, as well as leadership in working with students, families, colleagues and businesses.

“While there are so many strong organizations in this region, we find Society’s expansion of services through the development of partnerships over the past few years to be an exemplary model of the standard all such organizations should follow,” said Richard Rueda, president of the Northern California chapter of the association. “This organization is distinguished by its ability to dream big, allow partnerships to emerge, and sponsor and underwrite large portions of programming that ultimately benefit people with vision loss in Sacramento and throughout Northern California.”

Society for the Blind received the award for its expansion efforts, including its onsite Low Vision Clinic that now offers occupational therapy and services for young children, its peer and support group programming for parents of children with vision challenges, and its new partnerships with groups like UC Davis Eye Center and Junior Blind.

“This is an enormous honor, and we are grateful for this recognition as we continue to find new ways to empower people of all ages living with vision challenges,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind.

For 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 rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-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 www.societyfortheblind.org.

Society for the Blind Receives $40K from AT&T

Society for the Blind receives check from AT&T

Society for the Blind announced today it has received $40,000 from AT&T to fund teaching programs for adults and seniors living with vision loss.

“Society for the Blind is honored to receive this support from AT&T,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “Thanks to AT&T’s generosity, people who are living with low vision and blindness will be able to learn the skills and access the tools and technology that will help them live independently and achieve their work and personal goals.”

Society for the Blind’s classes focus on four core skills: orientation and mobility, Braille, adaptive technology and independent living skills. Students learn how to travel safely, efficiently and independently inside their home and in public. They learn how to use alternative techniques and tools to navigate day-to-day tasks such as cooking, cleaning, shopping, home maintenance, organization, personal finance, and using Braille to read, write and access technology. Students are trained in all aspects of computer use appropriate to their interests and skill levels, including email, Internet access, completing online forms, shopping and banking online, and creating documents.

“AT&T is committed to advancing education and strengthening the communities in which we live and work,” said Tim Ray, regional vice president of external affairs, AT&T. “AT&T is proud to support the educational programs of Society for the Blind as they are a key resource for blindness education and low vision services throughout the Sacramento region.”

For 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 rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-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. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.societyfortheblind.org.

Society for the Blind Expands Low-Vision Clinic

Society for the Blind has expanded its low-vision clinic services in Sacramento to include vision rehabilitation and pediatric eye care, including an occupational therapist and a second office in Roseville.

“We believe in empowering people with vision challenges to live life to the fullest,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director, Society for the Blind. “We know kids are quick to adapt, so if we can reach them when they’re young, we can empower them with the tools needed to do anything they want to do in life.”

Expanded pediatric services at the Sacramento nonprofit also incorporate Braille classes for children and monthly support groups for parents that include child care for both low-vision and sighted children in the family. The purpose of the groups is to give parents the chance to sit down and share experiences and solutions. One of Society for the Blind’s partners, pediatric ophthalmologist Dr. Mary O’Hara with UC Davis Eye Center, remembers the crushed look on parents’ faces when she would refer their children with vision challenges to a clinic in Berkeley. Many did not have the means to travel there from the Sacramento area.

“Society for the Blind has been a wonderful resource,” O’Hara said. “Up until 3 years of age, children with low vision can receive services through the state. Now we have a local facility where we can refer families of children ages 3 and up. Families are such an important part of treatment and support for children with low vision. If parents feel empowered, they will be better at helping a child feel empowered.”

The clinic expansion took place when Society for the Blind acquired the practice of a retiring ophthalmologist this year. Prior to the expansion, the clinic provided low-vision evaluation for adults, evaluating the person’s current functional vision and prescribing magnification aids. Society for the Blind’s managing optometrist Dr. Caitlin Walsh, OD, had prior experience with pediatrics, and when occupational therapist Toni Boom was hired, the clinic was able to expand.

“Working at Society for the Blind is ideal as an optometrist providing care for the visually impaired,” Walsh said. “Individuals often benefit from services other than glasses and magnifiers, and we offer comprehensive services in one location. I love that I can call upstairs and arrange mobility training, computer classes, Braille instruction and more for my patients. As a team, we help clients use their remaining vision effectively and learn non-visual techniques for daily living. This will empower many kids and adults for their future.”

Society for the Blind will host an open house for the expanded clinic on Sept. 26 as part of its yearlong 60th anniversary celebration. For more information, call (916) 452-8271.

For 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 rehabilitative teaching center for a 26-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. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.societyfortheblind.org.