|New Hampshire Association for the Blind
To advance the independence of persons who are blind and visually impaired
The New Hampshire Association for the Blind was established by Mrs. Emma Coolidge Weston and friends of Hancock, New Hampshire. A “blind fair” – to showcase the abilities and accomplishments of persons who are blind took place on the Hancock Town Green.
The New Hampshire Association for the Blind is incorporated and an office is opened in Concord, New Hampshire. Services are provided by volunteers.
1940's and 50's:
The Association hires its first Executive Director, William McGreal. A focus on advocacy helps to establish the State of NH. Bureau of Blind Services under the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. Volunteers form Homecraft and Recreation Programs and untrained workers provide social work counseling. A statewide public education and support mail program is instituted and a statewide prevention of blindness campaign is launched.
Services are professionalized and Gale N. Stickler becomes Executive Director. Counseling by trained social workers becomes the core service coordinating the Orientation & Mobility Training and Daily Living Skills Services, as well as the Homecraft and Recreation Programs.
Services expansion and professionalization continues. Low vision services are introduced for the first time to New Hampshire and the North Country Office opens in Berlin following a 3-year outreach effort,
The Association moves to new statewide headquarters - the McGreal Sight Center - following a successful $1 million capital building and endowment campaign. A growth in the state's older population creates an increase in the number of blind and visually impaired people needing specialized services. The Association formulates plans to meet this growing need.
The trend of increased numbers of people experiencing severe vision impairment continues. The restructuring of the Association successfully streamlines services to maintain a balanced budget and enhance the effectiveness of service programs. The William and Elizabeth Yates McGreal Society is formed to recognize individuals who have uniquely supported the Association with bequests and planned gifts. A $2 million dollar capital campaign added to the endowment and funded renovations to the Sight Center. This renovation added full accessibility to the facility as well as a Low Vision Clinic and training areas for services.
The Association continues strong renewal of service programs supported by the generosity of NH individuals, corporations, service clubs, and foundations. Many partnerships and collaborations strengthened and expanded.
New Core Services developed, Seacoast Office opened, Technology Services fully developed, Recording Studio opened for individual audio services to supplement existing Braille and alternate format offerings, and Volunteer Program expanded significantly.
First Employment Conference sponsored by the Association to address barriers to employment a big success; 90th Anniversary Year Celebrated in 2002.
Education Services for blind and visually impaired school children,in schools added to Core Services in 2003 with Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) and dedicated Orientation and Mobility Specialist (O&M)- funded by start-up grant by The Gibney Family Foundation. We currently have 4 TVI’s and O&M Specialists providing services to nearly 70 blind children in 25 school districts statewide.
Special Events were introduced with the goal of building awareness, recruiting volunteers and future leadership, and raising money. Added were the Blind Awareness Walk-a-thon, Spooky Silent Auction, Winter/Spring Concert.
The Board addresses Governance Issues and Major Gift development becomes a major priority for the organization.
A series of successful art exhibits have been held in the Portsmouth and Peterborough area in partnership with the NH Arts Association and local galleries.
In 2012 the association will celebrate in 100th anniversary of service to NH citizens living with blindness and vision loss.
Learn More: The Association's Staff
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