Grantee submission by: Dennis Zehner, Executive Director and CEO

How did the funding or non-monetary support you received from the Foundation impact your organization and/or the community?

Funding from the Moses Taylor Foundation has supported our guided service for our clients with visual impairments and blindness in Monroe County. This service provides critical access to medical care, food, our integral programs, and other essential needs. A total of 42% of our clients live below or near the federal poverty line, and 85% live at or below 300% of that line. A total of 82% of our clients are ages 55 and up and 64% are ages 65 and up.

Transportation is our most requested client service and it is also the primary way they access our services. We teach adaptive life skills to help our clients accomplish daily life activities. We provide additional support services – including caseworker assistance, counseling and peer support groups, and socialization activities. We provide solutions to clients that enhance their sight capabilities. Our low vision optometrist performs functional exams to determine how clients and patients can continue the activities that are more important to them. We also provide consultations and distribute assistive tools and technologies that meet each individual’s needs.

In surveys, 98% of clients indicate that our transport service increases their access to medical care, and 76% say it increases their access to food.

Share a quote or anecdotal story from a client or employee of your organization that illustrates the impact of your work.

Daniel was placed in foster care at age 4. Abused, neglected, and malnourished, Daniel suffered trauma that caused him to begin losing his vision at age 9. He eventually became completely blind, was aging out of foster care, had no family, and was very scared. When Daniel was embraced by Sights for Hope his life changed. Our transportation service brought him to programs where he learned how to live by himself. Our caseworkers found a suitable apartment and our Vision Rehabilitation Therapist taught him how to cook, do laundry, maneuver around his apartment, to cross the street, and how to take out his own trash. Daniel now pays his own rent and is becoming more independent every day.

What do you most want the community to know about your work and/or what excites you most about the future of your organization?

Sights for Hope has set four Big Impact Goals to meet from 2022 to 2030. These goals include the provision of 25,000 guided transports to people with visual impairments, to provide 2,500 people with visual impairments assistive devices that boost their ability to interact with the people and environments around them, to provide 2,500 people with life skills education programs that enhance their ability to live independently, and to ensure that 2,500 children ages 0-6 receive eye exams and glasses to advance their readiness to learn.