Society Receives Donation to Purchase Braille Embosser

Since Jill Guilbeau joined Society for the Blind’s staff as Braille instructor three years ago, she dreamed of having a Braille embosser so she could create customized learning materials based on each of her students’ individual needs.

In December, that dream came true when the Snyder family of Snyder’s House of Jade in Folsom donated $5,000, asking that the donation go toward an important need at Society for the Blind.

“I can’t thank the Snyders enough,” Jill said. “This is going to be huge, not only for our students but for Society for the Blind in general.”

This is the second year in a row that Mark and Rebecca Snyder, and Mark’s father Ken Snyder, have donated $5,000 to Society for the Blind after their friend Nick Westerman joined our staff. They met Nick a decade ago when he was working in real estate in Folsom until his eyesight began to decline.

“We watched him go through the courses at Society for the Blind and eventually be hired as a teacher,” Mark said. “He’s excited to go to work every day and help others. His enthusiasm is just unbelievable. So we wanted to donate something to help out.”

For Nick, the donation is both a generous gift to a cause he believes in and warm encouragement for his new career.

“I’ve done business with the Snyder family as their real estate agent and as a customer,” Nick said. “I’ve even helped in their store. It’s just so nice to have the support of friends like the Snyders as my new career takes shape.”

Society for the Blind will use the Snyder donation to purchase the ViewPlus Delta, a sheet-fed embosser that can produce more than a hundred Braille characters per second, allowing users to produce several pages of Braille every minute.

“This capability is usually something reserved for larger entities such as libraries, school districts and other institutions of higher learning,” said Aser Tolentino, a technology instructor at Society for the Blind. “We are grateful to the Snyder family for providing our students with this powerful tool that will improve or restore literacy for hundreds of people and deliver our message of independence in yet another accessible medium.”

The Snyders are no strangers to giving. Since Ken Snyder retired from the U.S. Air Force in 1973, moved home from Asia and opened Snyder’s House of Jade with his wife Irene three years later, the family has donated to multiple local and international organizations. Through their storefront on Sutter Street that specializes in antique Asian furniture and jade jewelry, the Snyder family has donated to a local organization that helps underprivileged kids find jobs and has a long history supporting an orphanage in Korea, where Ken was stationed.

Mark, who has helped run the family’s store for 30 years, said his family likes to give where donations are most needed, and that includes their recent donation to Society for the Blind.

Mark Snyder stands in his family's Folsom business, Snyder's House of Jade
Mark Snyder stands in his family’s Folsom business, Snyder’s House of Jade

“Whatever the biggest need was, we wanted to help out, and it made us really happy that we could help buy this machine,” Mark said.

The embosser not only will allow for customized learning materials, but Society for the Blind will now have the capability to turn all of its fliers for events and opportunities into Braille documents, and serve as a Braille transcription resource for the community.

“We can do anything in Braille now, including restaurant menus,” Jill said. “This generous donation opens up so much more opportunity.”