Five Burlington residents founded the Vermont Committee for the Blind (VCB), precursor to VABVI, with assistance and encouragements from Helen Keller and the American Foundation for the Blind.
20 years after it’s creation, VABVI receives tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) nonprofit status! Shortly after, VABVI begins to put an “emphasis on enhanced services,” and Dr. Rupert A. Chittick was hired as the Executive Director for the new education program.
VABVI hired the very first mobility and rehabilitation teachers to provide support and training to adults. It was in 1976 that VABVI purchased the K.B. Walker House on Elmwood Avenue and moved into the first permanent office building.
Additional offices were opened for VABVI in Rutland, St. Johnsbury, and Brattleboro! Shortly after, Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs) were hired to expand into the arena of children’s services.
VABVI hosted the first Intensive Residential Life Experiences (IRLE) camp for children in 1990, which emphasized social skills and career preparation. Peer Assisted Learning and Support (PALS) Groups were also developed for adult clients.
In 2004, VABVI concluded its first-ever capital campaign, raising $500,000 to construct a Mini Center in Montpelier! A few years later the second capital campaign was completed, and raised over 2 million dollars for the Gibney Family Vision Center.
VABVI maintains its mission by implementing a new Corporate Partnership program, developing a Communications Department, and creating the Leadership Circle Membership Program. These new establishments all have one goal – to raise awareness and funding for VABVI to continue enabling Vermonters with vision impairments to achieve everyday independence.
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