Steadfast Care in an Uncertain Year

As we begin this new year, we know that we continue to face uncertainties around the coronavirus pandemic. Here at Society for the Blind, as with you, we all have been impacted in one way or another. But most importantly: We all stuck together and found our way forward.

I cannot thank you enough for your generosity that enabled us to not only maintain our programs and services, but to see them expand, both in what we offer and where we offer it. Last year in my January blog, I shared that we had been awarded a contract with the State of Nevada. Over the past 12 months, we have been fine-tuning the contract while we started to provide services to residents of Nevada. Last week we were notified that our one-year contract would be renewed as a four-year contract to provide blindness skills education and employment services. Over the coming years, we look forward to providing in-person services for Nevada residents in their home state and at Society’s main training center in Sacramento.

Our CareersPLUS Youth Program continues to grow with kids attending from across the state. Our new program coordinator, Brandie Kubel, is gearing up to offer workshops in 2022 focusing on college prep, building independent living skills and pursuing that first job. Our After-School Academy is offering remote tutoring for kids in elementary through high school. Our hope is to resume in-person academy services later this year. One exciting development Brandie is leading is the creation of a podcast by teens who are blind and low vision. Together they will learn how to create content, record, edit and post their podcasts – all valuable skills for their future.

Thanks to the Sacramento Bee Book of Dreams, our Senior IMPACT Project will be able to increase its stock of Senior Safe at Home Kits for our clients. With nearly 500 new seniors coming to Society each year, having these basic tools available for our clients is critical. We send our Senior Safe at Home Kits to clients and then one of our instructors calls or Zooms to provide training on how to use these items. Kits may include a white cane, talking keychain clock, liquid level indicator, Victor Reader and bump dots. Gaining basic proficiency in the use of these tools helps prevent falls, medication mix-ups and other potentially dangerous incidents. We were honored to be featured on the front page of the Sacramento Bee for our Senior Safe at Home Kits – what a perfect way to kick off the 20th anniversary of our Senior IMPACT Project this year!

We also have added a new service in 2022: counseling for our clients and their caregivers. Society for the Blind is partnering with Hope Counseling Center to offer our clients individual and group counseling as they adjust to living with vision loss and blindness. The professional staff of Hope Counseling will provide remote counseling and in-person services at Society for the Blind and at their Sacramento office. We are pleased to add this critical component of service for our clients.

With the new year comes hope – and yes, uncertainty. But one thing you can be sure of: Society for the Blind will be there for anyone experiencing vision loss or blindness and for their families. The pandemic has made us more creative and more determined than ever to ensure that people living with low vision or blindness can discover, develop and achieve their full potential.