MISSION STATEMENT VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a non-profit rehabilitation and social service organization whose purpose is to develop and implement programs to assist blind and visually impaired people of all ages to lead independent and active lives in their homes and communities; and to educate the public to understand the capabilities and needs of people who are blind or visually impaired so that they may be integrated into all aspects of community life. The programs in the greater New York area by which VISIONS fulfills its purpose include: (1) in-home rehabilitation training, (2) community-based social services, (3) supported leisure and recreational activities, and (4) individual, group, and community education. VISIONS programs focus on those persons who are blind and visually impaired with special needs, including elders, people with multiple disabilities, and culturally diverse/limited-English speaking persons. Reaffirmed January 2003
How It All Began A History of VISIONS In the early 1920s six women formed an organization devoted to serving New Yorkers who were blind. They saw needs of people that had been overlooked, such as the desire to escape from stressful city life to a place with specially designed accommodations and services. The organization, called Vacation Camp, started on March 5, 1923 with sixty-two charter members and grew to over four hundred within a month. Starting small, the women rented a cottage in Rye, New York, where a few blind men could spend two-week vacations. They expanded the vacation services by renting the Huyler estate, with its lovely grounds, three story colonial house, and beach privileges. By the second summer, the camp hosted 150 blind and partially sighted guests over a ten-week season. Men vacationed in July, women in August, with a separate week for mothers with babies. Vacation Camp pioneered racially integrated groups. On June 15, 1926, Vacation Camp and Dormitory for the Blind was incorporated. The Huyler estate in Rye was purchased for Vacation Camp, and a residence for 13 blind working men was established on 120th Street in Manhattan. Board members helped the residents start businesses and assisted with bookkeeping, purchasing, and contacting customers. Helping people to help themselves was progressive at that time. In 1951, a thirty-five acre camp in the Village of New Hempstead, New York, was purchased, offering vacations year-round for visually impaired single adults, couples, and families with children. In 1964, VISIONS introduced the first group of seniors with vision impairments to a center in their own neighborhood. Today, we provide outreach, information services, and counseling to help older individuals integrate into community life, and serve as a liaison with over 40 senior centers throughout the city. In 1972, CIL (Center for Independent Living) rehabilitation services began as the only program at the time providing comprehensive individualized services for older people who are blind. CIL and VCB merged in 1984. Today, consumers receive training at home and at VISIONS offices. In 1993, VISIONS rehabilitation department received the Program of Distinction Award from the National Rehabilitation Association, New York Metropolitan Chapter. In 1997, VISIONS Volunteer Program won the Youth Serving Elders Award from NYSIGN, the New York State Intergenerational Network. In 2001, Visions at Selis Manor inaugurated its new rehabilitation, recreation and social programs to serve blind and visually impaired tenants of Selis Manor and community users of the building. VISIONS celebrates its 75th anniversary. As conceived by VISIONS founding partners, the philosophy has remained constant concern for the individual, listening to his/her needs, and designing programs that reinforce independence.