Annual Reports

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2021 Annual Report

A collage of two images feature a young girl kicking a soccer ball (top), and two girls laying on top of a large pool floatie (bottom)

Our Mission

VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a nonprofit rehabilitation and social service organization. VISIONS purpose is to develop and implement individualized programs to assist people who are blind and visually impaired of all ages to lead independent and active lives, and to educate the public to understand the capabilities and needs of people who are blind and visually impaired.

VISIONS Facts

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All of the services we offer are free of charge thanks to government & foundation grants, and private donations
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We offer services in 16 languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese dialects, Russian, and American Sign Language (ASL)
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Our programs are tailored to the specific needs of our participants, no matter how complex those needs are
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1 in 3 VISIONS staff members are blind or have a visual impairment
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87¢ of every dollar is spent on programs, with only 13¢ spent on administration and fundraising
Filled-in red circle with white text that reads, Less than 4%, in the middle.
In 2021, VISIONS had a 3.76% staff turnover rate, much lower than the NYC average for nonprofits!
Filled-in red circle with white text that reads, Number 1, in the middle.
VISIONS Workforce Program was ranked #1 in Job Placements for the 6th consecutive year. The New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB) quality assurance review gave VISIONS Workforce Program a 10 out of 10 for providing excellent job placement services.

President and Executive Director/CEO Message

The continued illness, death and disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and new variants created sadness and stress for VISIONS participants, staff, and volunteers. Unprovoked attacks against Asian-American women, anti-Gay, anti-Transgender, anti-Semitic, anti-Black, and anti-immigrant violence added fear to the daily commute and travel from client to client for in-home training. Despite these circumstances, VISIONS resilience came through with expanded virtual programs, a larger geographic reach, innovative outreach and public education presentations and creation of new services with daily check-ins for isolated older blind people. We assisted with making vaccine appointments. We distributed free talking thermometers, masks, hand sanitizers, and COVID-19 test kits. We added center-based and in-home technology training for older blind adults to use free tablets provided by the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA). The VISIONS at Selis Manor, Rehabilitation, Social Work, Workforce, Unpaid Caregivers, and Youth Services staff creatively offered in-person and virtual training, counseling, and classes. VISIONS Center on Blindness offered in-person overnight sessions and added new virtual activities. We are very proud to have very low staff turnover. Virtual and in-person community advisory board activities and special events were extremely successful. With the help of the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan converted to a grant, generous individual donors, and foundation support, we helped more blind people achieve their goals compared to last fiscal year. Thank you to VISIONS Board of Directors, staff, volunteers, and contributors, for enabling VISIONS to provide free services and individualized training for primarily low-income blind people of color and their families. Thank you to our blind participants and families for making VISIONS your agency of choice, and for sharing your capabilities to keep VISIONS strong and focused on where we are most needed.

Headshot of Robert Schonbrunn wearing a white button down shirt, burgundy tie and blue suit jacket
Headshot of Nancy D. Miller wearing a white shirt and beige sweater

VISIONS Reach

VISIONS serves participants in all boroughs of NYC, as well as Long Island, Westchester County, the Lower Hudson Valley, and several counties in New Jersey.

All legally blind and visually impaired persons sponsored by their state commission for the blind are eligible for residential short-term training at VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB).

Did You Know?

VISIONS is the sole provider of vision rehabilitation programs and services in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley.

Program Sites

VISIONS Headquarters
500 Greenwich Street, Suite 302
New York, NY 10013

VISIONS at Selis Manor
135 West 23rd Street
New York, NY 10011

VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB)
Vocational Rehabilitation Center (VRC)
111 Summit Park Road
Spring Valley, NY 10977

VISIONS Services

Vision Rehabilitation

In-home instruction for all ages, on key skills to living with vision loss, safely traveling in the community, and maintaining independence

Job Training / Placement

Instruction on resume writing, computer literacy, applying/interviewing for jobs, and techniques to thrive in the workplace

Assistive Technology

Instruction on using screen-reading or magnification software on computers, as well as accessibility features available on mobile devices

Youth Services

Internships and job training for young adults 14–21 years old, as well as pre-college programs to prepare high-school students for life’s next steps

VISIONS Center on Aging

Programs and services designed for adults ages 60 or older, including free meals on weekdays, benefits counseling, health-focused activities, support groups, classes and workshops, social activities, and mail reading

Unpaid Caregiver Support

Free resources and support for caregivers assisting visually impaired and blind older adults (60+), and visually impaired grandparents (55+) who serve as the primary caregiver to a child under 18 years old

Residential Short-Term Training

Residential, short-term training in vision rehabilitation, job training, and assistive technology for individuals and families, held at VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) and the Vocational Rehabilitation Center (VRC)

Community Outreach

Presentations and staffing events to help raise awareness of the needs and abilities of people with visual impairments; as well as information and referrals through Blindline®.

To learn more, visit https://bit.ly/3ImqPHX

7,075 Participants Served in 2021

5,538

Community Services, Vision Rehabilitation & Workforce Development

1,174

VISIONS at Selis Manor Programs and
VISIONS Center on Aging

363

VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) and VISIONS Vocational Rehab Center (VRC)

Participant Stories

A man wearing a white t shirt stands in front of a yellow wall and smiles to the camera

Justin, 20, is one of the most recent participants to graduate the Vocational Rehabilitation Center (VRC)'s 15-week Employment Readiness and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) Program, which aims to prepare legally blind young adults 18 to 21 for the workforce.

Before his enrollment in VISIONS Pre-ETS program, Justin had some work experience at Rocking the Boat, where he was tasked with cleaning boats and assisting with tours. He also worked his way up to a management position at the snack bar at VISIONS at Selis Manor. When Justin first came to the program, he expressed several areas that he was interested in exploring, including entrepreneurship and entertainment. Upon completing the program and receiving his certification in customer service, Justin stated “Coming to this program did help me find a sense of direction and helped me to become more mature”. Justin also reported that he has learned a lot regarding independent living skills, orientation and mobility, and assistive technology. Justin stated, “I feel like I learned more here in 3 months than I did in 6 years at my high school”. and “I learned how to cook, [and] how to be more independent”.

While Justin pursues part-time employment after the program, he continues to work toward his other ambitions, including opening a t-shirt printing business, and continuing to create entertaining content for his social media audience.

A woman wearing a headscarf and green shirt sits on a bench and smiles to the camera.

Valerie has been sincerely committed to attending and being a part of the VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) family for 41 years! Valerie started her first VCB experience in 1980 and has grown a genuine connection to the program and all that it has to offer. Throughout the many changes at VCB over the years, the one thing that has never changed is Valerie’s devotion and love for being a part of it all.

“I love coming to VCB so I can relax and be in nature”. Valerie finds that being able to go outside to be one with nature, attending morning walks during weekend sessions, and just simply traveling about the campus is revitalizing. Valerie mentions that so far, her favorite activity has been arts and crafts, and she never misses a chance to attend one of VCB’s art classes during the weekend or summer sessions. Valerie enjoys the calmness of being able to create, while sharing the experience with her peers at the same time. She recalls her favorite arts and crafts creation being a basket!

Valerie mentions that whenever she meets anyone new who she believes may be interested in outside services, she is quick to suggest that they go to VCB. Valerie also adds that “it’s the staff that truly keeps me coming back”. Valerie's commitment to VCB, is a result of staff going above and beyond to ensure her expectations are met, and that genuine connections are made with her peers. 

Program Highlights

An older woman wearing a mask holds up a banana and orange with shapes carved into them

VISIONS Center on Aging continues to host over 100 virtual classes per week, and reached out to over 1,000 older adults in 2021.

A young man sits at his desk in front of his laptop and iPad, and smiles to the camera.

VISIONS Workforce Department staff provided services to a total of 364 job seekers (in both New York and New Jersey)

A collage of three images shows two boys sitting in a two-person paddle boat (left), a group of teenage participants using iPads to get school work done (center), and three young participants baking snacks together (right).

VISIONS Youth Services Department ran their full gamut of summer programming, including the Summer Transition Program at VCB, Pre-College Program at Manhattanville College (which ran virtually), and the Snack Bar at Selis Manor.

A man with a cane (left) is assisted by a VISIONS staff member (right) as they walk into a building on the VCB campus

Caregivers of older adults who are blind or visually impaired had the opportunity to relax and enjoy a no-cost respite weekend at VCB.

A group of Pre-ETS participants stand together, some of which hold their certificates.

VISIONS 2021 Employment Readiness and Pre-ETS Program participants completed their 15 week programs, earning their customer service certificates, and participating in their first paid work experience trainings.

A collage of three images shows a toddler sliding into a small kiddie pool filled with water (left), a young man with a snake draped over his neck (center), and a young man wearing a mask playing a piano (right)

Despite the ongoing pandemic, a total of 31 blind children and their families participated in one of our three, one-week residential programs at VCB. The children were provided rehabilitation therapy that included money identification, simple meal preparation, social skills, and communication skills. The children also enjoyed recreational activities that included beep kick ball, swimming, gardening, adaptive golf, and a petting zoo.

Event Highlights

A collage of four images show a man with a guide dog and his daughter standing together (left), a group of golfers striking a pose (top right), a group of tennis players standing together (center right), and a group of VISIONS Board Members standing together (bottom right)

VISIONS 35th Annual Golf & Tennis Outing held at Quaker Ridge Golf Club in Scarsdale, NY, raised more than $190,000 to support VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) and VISIONS free services in Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley. More than 180 golfers and 15 tennis players enjoyed a wonderful day of sports and networking, with an end-of-day reception featuring a silent auction and door prizes, and a special acknowledgment of our outstanding honoree, Robert Heidenberg. Mr. Heidenberg is a VISIONS Board Member, and the Founder and Managing Partner of Heidenberg Properties Group, which develops, owns, and manages shopping centers and retail properties.

To see photos from the event, visit https://bit.ly/36MuAJE

A group photo of VISIONS advisory board members and event honorees holding their awards, standing together.

Our newly expanded Bronx-Westchester Advisory Board celebrated its annual event on July 21 at Frankie & Johnny’s Pine Restaurant in the Bronx. Through the hard work of the advisory board members and our honorees, the event raised almost $20,000 to support VISIONS free services in the Bronx & Westchester.

A group of four people, event honorees, stand outside next to each other holding their framed awards.

In early June, our Brooklyn Advisory Board hosted its annual dinner at Gargiulo’s in Coney Island. For many, this was their first time venturing out since the start of the pandemic. With the help of our advisory board members and honorees, the event raised over $11,000 to support VISIONS free services in Brooklyn.

A group shot focusing on five attendees sitting at a large wooden table, with framed photos behind them.

VISIONS Queens Advisory Board held its 4th Annual Cocktails for a Cause fundraiser on August 22nd, 2021. The festivities were held at J Fallon's Tap Room, located in Floral Park. The afternoon event exceeded expectations raising $8,000 to support VISIONS free services in Queens and Long Island.

Support Highlights

The Field Hall Foundation Logo

VISIONS was awarded a $75,000 grant by the Field Hall Foundation to build our capacity to serve blind older adults in Dutchess and Putnam Counties.

New York Community Trust, Logo

The New York Community Trust awarded VISIONS $100,000 to train Vision Rehabilitation Professionals to help low-vision New Yorkers use assistive technology (Train the Trainer).

The Staten Island Foundation

VISIONS was awarded $15,000 by The Staten Island Foundation to provide professional development to Staten Island non-profits in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA).

Two men paint bright yellow edges on a flight of stairs at VCB

Each year VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) has relied on the involvement of community volunteer groups to assist in preparing the 37.5 acre campus for its year-round weekend and summer programs. On June 17, 2021 Antoinette Calderon, a member of VISIONS Bronx-Westchester Advisory Board, and member of Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors (HGAR) pulled together a group of 8 committed and driven volunteers. The group was able to learn more about VISIONS and the services we provided and assisted in general dorm cleaning, landscaping, and re-painting steps leading to dormitories.

A group of Lions Club members wearing red shirts and yellow vests sit together

Since 1951, VISIONS Center on Blindness (VCB) has relied on the support of Lions Clubs from multiple Districts. This support comes in the form of: financial donations sponsoring participants to attend free of charge; volunteer services during annual Lions Work Weekends; in-kind donations; and our Adopt-A-Building program - taking on the financial and work responsibility for specific buildings/program areas at the VCB campus. The Lions have never failed to show up, and remain committed to VISIONS and the participants we serve. During our Spring Work Day, over 100 Lions assisted in the upkeep of buildings and landscaping at VCB.

VISIONS Leadership

Officers

Robert Schonbrunn*∞
President
Nancy T. Jones*
Past President
Dr. Cynthia Stuen∞
Vice President
Burton M. Strauss, Jr.
Treasurer
Kenneth J. Gralak∞
Assistant Treasurer
Denise G. Rabinowitz
Secretary

Officers

Sheldon I. Berg
Jyotika Bisht
Sherilyn Casiano
Dr. Andrew S. Fisher
Lucius L. Fowler*
Frances Freedman
Gloria Fu
Robert Heidenberg
Steven E. Kent
Theodore P. Klingos*
Dr. James McGroarty∞
Jagadish B. Rao∞
William S. Resnick
Peter A. Roffman
Anusha Sharma
Yan “Tuiggy” Zhang

Executive Team

Nancy D. Miller∞
Executive Director/CEO
Carlos Cabrera
Chief Financial Officer
Ruben Coellar∞
Chief Program Officer
Russell C. Martello
Chief Development Officer
Diane Weiss
Chief Program Officer
Natalia S. Young∞
Chief Operating Officer

Advisory Council

Lois Wagh Aronstein∞
Mal L. Barasch
Joseph L. Corace^
Ronald C. Delo∞
Donald F. Dunning∞
Susan Hale
Robert S. Loeb∞
Michael O’Halloran∞
David J. Orenstein
Angelo Purcigliotti∞
Henry Saveth∞
Dr. Albert D. Widman
John Winthrop
Stuart S. Wizwer∞
Nora Xie

Advisory Boards

Bronx-Westchester
Brooklyn
Manhattan
Queens
Center on Aging
Staten Island
VCB

* Trustee, Fund for the Blind
∞ Lion
^ Kiwanian

A poster shows a blurry eye chart, with large text next to it reading, if you can't see something, say something

Help Spread the Word

VISIONS created a public service announcement (PSA) campaign to build awareness for the services VISIONS offers to its participants.

This campaign, which originally started as a flyer, is available to share on social media. You can view the video on YouTube by visiting https://youtu.be/vja0qHJR0I0

Please e-mail marketing@visionsvcb.org if you or someone you know would like resources to share this campaign across your social media or professional networks.

VISIONS Financials

Revenue Sources FY20:
10/01/20 – 09/30/21

Donut chart representing VISIONS revenue sources. Investment income, Red, 50%. Government, Orange, 38%. Contributions, Green, 10%. Special Events, Blue, 2%.

Expenses FY20:
10/01/20 – 09/30/21

Donut chart representing VISIONS expenses. Community Services, Red, 53.18%. VCB, Orange, 21.66%. VISIONS at Selis Manor, Green, 11.82%. Management and General, Blue, 9.02%. Fundraising, Purple, 4.32%.

In Fiscal Year 2020, VISIONS maintained a 13% overhead in actual spending.

The remaining 87% was spent providing, expanding, and enhancing needed programs and services for our participants.

For more detailed information, and to see a complete list of contributions for Fiscal Year 2021, click the buttons below.

Table representing VISIONS expenses, broken down. Program Services. Community Services: $5,851,300 or 53.18%. VCB: $2,383,490 or 21.66%. VISIONS at Selis Manor: $1,300,902 or 11.82%. Total Program Services: $9,535,692 or 86.66%. Supporting Services. Management and General: $992,430 or 9.02%. Fundraising: $474,997 or 4.32%. Total Supporting Services: $1,467,427 or 13.34%. Total: $11,003,119 or 100%.

Save The Date:

Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital (MEETH) Presents: VISIONS @ 95: We Know What is Possible!

A Cocktail Reception Honoring Nancy D. Miller, Executive Director/CEO, for her Leadership During the Pandemic

Wednesday, June 15th, 2022
6:00-8:00 PM
Manhattan Eye, Ear, and Throat Hospital (MEETH)
210 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065

Important Information: All COVID protocols will be followed. Seating is limited. Proceeds for this event will be used to support VISIONS Free Programs. The health and welfare of our guests is our priority. This event will be held virtually if necessary.

Click Here to Register for This Event

Participant Feedback

VISIONS Center on Aging: Of 125 random participants surveyed,

74%

of participants met new people and felt good about their ability to relate to others.

83%

better understood the importance of exercise after completing fitness activities.

70%

of participants felt more capable embracing themselves, with a strong feeling of self-confidence.

VISIONS Center on Blindness: Of 100 random participants surveyed,

72%

of participants met new people and felt good about their ability to relate to others.

75%

of participants increased their participation in other social programs and activities.

74%

of participants felt more satisfied about their lives after participating in VCB/VRC programs.

How to Support VISIONS

Make a Donation

Whether you give us an individual donation, or a lead to a Foundation Grant, or Corporate Sponsor that is aligned with our mission, every effort helps! Donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Ways to Donate

  • Online, at: www.visionsvcb.org/donate
  • Donor Advised Fund
  • Gifts of Appreciated Stock
  • Qualified Charitable Donations
  • Include VISIONS in your will*

If you have any questions about ways to donate or know of individuals, foundations, or corporations interested in supporting VISIONS, please contact Russell C. Martello, Chief Development Officer at rmartello@visionsvcb.org.

*If you would like to consider naming VISIONS in your Will, or making a testamentary gift, simply share the following information with your lawyer:

Legal Name: VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired

Tax ID: 13-1624210

Address: 500 Greenwich Street, Suite 302
New York, NY 10013

Other Ways to Support VISIONS

Join a Borough Advisory Board

Grouped by borough, members of VISIONS Advisory Boards help promote the issues important to the agency, represent VISIONS at community events, assist in raising funds to support the amazing work we do, and help solicit new contributors for our annual fundraising events.

Click Here to Learn More

Volunteer at our Older Adult Center

VISIONS Center on Aging located in Manhattan is always looking for volunteers. Volunteers may assist participants with reading mail, and other types of written materials, escorting them in the community for shopping and appointments, and helping in a variety of programs (i.e. quilting, arts & crafts, knitting, photography, ceramics, and technology training).

Click Here to Learn More

Help Jobseekers Gain Work Skills

There are many ways to help make a difference in the lives of jobseekers with visual impairments:

  • Host an Intern
  • Host a training
  • Be a presenter
  • Hire a jobseeker

For more information, contact Heather Hanlon, Senior Director of Workforce Development at hemeka@visionsvcb.org

Click Here to Learn More