WATERTOWN — Not only a pun for perfect vision, the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired of Northern New York’s 20/20 Campaign, also known as the Capital Campaign, is a necessity for sustaining its operations.
With the goal of raising $100,000 to improve or maintain quality of life for those who are blind or visually impaired in the area, this fundraising campaign will be no small undertaking.
According to Robert Ashodian, treasurer of the association and a board member for the past three years, they have never really done a major fundraising program like this before, and came up with the idea a couple months ago to have an effort to get donations from corporate sponsors.
“The entire board is committed to this operation and we’re optimistic that this is going to be a big success,” he said.
Mr. Ashodian became involved with the association because of his wife, who is so badly visually impaired she is almost blind. While they own a home on the lake with beautiful sunsets, he said his wife just sees a blur.
“These people aren’t as visible in society, but there are thousands in the tri-county area who are hurting because they’re blind or visually impaired,” he said. “What the blind and the visually impaired want is they want to get back to a quality of life — they don’t want to be dragged around as a special invalid case; they want to be independent — that’s the message that we’re trying to convey to the community.”
Though many may not realize it, there is a large population of blind and visually impaired persons in the area. For those individuals, ABVINNY vows to provide quality services, education and up to date technology to help sustain independence within the home, workplace and in the community, according to its website.
In January, the association opened a Vision Rehabilitation Center at Top of the Square, 146L Arsenal St., under Concentrix, in addition to its administrative offices on Washington Street, made possible by a grant received from the Jane Deline Foundation.
At the new Vision Rehabilitation Center, free vision screenings are given, a braille library is available — one of few in the tri-county area, and those who are blind or visually impaired are taught independent living skills to compensate for the vision loss.
According to Olivia Kassoum-Amadou, the executive director of the association, magnification is always an issue for everyone because a lot of people, in order to maintain their independence, still need to see to read the paper, to write their checks, to read recipes, so that’s a huge measure of independence for them to still be able to do those basic things.
The center is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and often holds events on the weekends. To meet the needs of those served by the center, walk-ins are accepted without appointment and home visits are available.
“We’ve got a lot to offer here and we want people to come in and take advantage of it,” Mrs. Kassoum-Amadou said.
Though Mr. Ashodian said the community has made wonderful leaps and bounds, the association just isn’t getting the support it needs from government agencies, so the struggle is to have a financial model that allows them to provide the services they do — that’s where the 20/20 Campaign comes in.
According to Mr. Ashodian, what the association really needs is to be able to find people who can give generously on a continuing basis, because the amount of time spent trying to raise money is time taken away from helping clients and getting them the devices they need.
“When we start looking at the cost of these devices, that’s where the Capital Campaign can also come in and help us because we want to be able to serve our clients with the highest dignity so that they can maintain the best quality of life that they can,” she said. “If we’re limited in what we can purchase for them, sometimes it may mean the difference of being able to provide them an additional device that they need that can help with that independence.”