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The Stockton Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired offers social and educational programs that cater to those with vision loss to live fulfilling, independent lives.

For most of us, sight is something we take for granted. We wake up in the morning, check our phones, cook our breakfast, drive our cars and go to work — the whole time using our eyes to get from point A to point B. But what if we couldn’t rely on our vision to guide us throughout our day?

The Stockton Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired recognizes what a privilege sight is, and is the only agency in San Joaquin County to offer services that empower those with vision loss to live fulfilling, independent lives.

Since its inception in 1949, thousands of people have walked through the center’s doors. The communal space offers social and educational programs that cater to the wide variety of vision loss and the unique needs of each client.

According to Sarah Bennet, accounting manager at the community center, the most popular program is the Assistive Technology Training program. Individuals learn how to use applications on devices such as smart phones to help them with daily tasks such as mobility and identifying money.

Community classes and home visits focus on teaching participants how to cook, take care of their home and manage their money. There is also a Braille class where clients learn how to read and write. Through Braille, they can access the written word and pursue hobbies such as board games and playing cards. 

“Clients who complete our programs feel that their independence has been given back to them, they have a new lease on life and their self-esteem has improved,” Bennet said.

Mobility is another crucial component for regaining independence. Some individuals don’t do much when suffering vision loss, which was the case for one client until she attended a mobility training. 

“Since receiving her white cane and completing our Orientation & Mobility program, she started participating in other activities at the center,” said Elsie Hirata, the case manager and volunteer coordinator at the center. “Now she feels like she is part of a wonderful family and is a much happier person!”

Practical skills are not the only focus at the center. Emotional adjustment is equally as important when adapting to vision loss. Clients can prevent isolation by attending socials and events where they do arts and crafts, make ceramics, and play games together. 

“These activities are very important because it helps the client realize that they are not alone as well as giving them a different point of view,” Hirata said.

If you, or anyone you know, is adjusting to vision loss or is interested in volunteering, the Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired is located at 2453 Grand Canal Blvd., Suite 5, in Stockton. Their doors are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and you can go online at www.communitycenterfortheblind.org to find their daily events calendar. 

DINING IN THE DARK FUNDRAISER

Join the Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired at their 3rd annual Dining in the Dark Fundraiser.

When: Saturday, Oct. 19

Time: Doors open at 5:30 p.m. / Dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Where: Church of the Presentation, Guadalupe Hall, 1515 W. Benjamin Holt Dr., Stockton

Cost: $60

What: This dining experience supports the Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Guests can eat while wearing sleep shades. By limiting one’s vision, individuals will have a greater awareness of other senses. This one of a kind event is sure to sell-out!

For information or tickets, call (209) 466-3836 Ext. 215 or email at: info@communitycenterfortheblind.org

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