Good Cause of the Month: Future In Sight
This 105-year-old group is in the midst of a makeover
Future In Sight social workers and volunteers help those with sight loss to live independently — and to participate in the same recreational activities we all love.
For the past two months, we've been alerting you to events and causes worthy of your time and philanthropic treasure in our Good Cause of the Month series. Keep an eye out for a Good Cause every month here at NHMagazine.com, from charitable events to volunteer opportunities to nonprofits you should get to know — and, by the end of the year, your do-gooder cred will be off the charts.
For this month's Good Cause, we'd like to introduce you to Future In Sight. Formerly known as the New Hampshire Association for the Blind, this Concord-based nonprofit unveiled a new name and identity last month to reflect the broad spectrum of services they provide to blind and visually impaired people around the state. The group has operated for a remarkable 105 years in New Hampshire, and their work is more vital now than ever.
What They Do
Hancock's Emma Coolidge Weston founded the New Hampshire Association for the Blind in 1912 with the goal of providing services and vocational training to people around New Hampshire who suffered from blindness and visual impairment. A century later, Future In Sight's mission is essentially the same.
More than 30,000 people around the state suffer from blindness or profound visual impairment, and Future In Sight's programming attempts to reach as many of them as possible. Their approach is hands-on, pairing clients with social workers or skilled volunteers who can help them on their path to independent living.
For children, the focus — in working with the child, his or her teachers, and the child's parents — is on education. Future In Sight may help a teacher learn where to access large-print classroom materials, or teach parents how to use tactile learning in the home with a visually impaired toddler. Teachers of the Visually Impaired can help blind children learn Braille or improve their socialization. Among adults, Future In Sight assists with vocational training and self-sufficiency — from navigating around your home with a visual impairment to tips for independent grocery shopping. Future In Sight creates a personalized service for each client, and they're always trying to reach more.
Leading up to the name transition, says Future In Sight president and CEO David Morgan, "We realized that 93% of who we're serving aren't blind. So the name became an obstacle to folks getting services." Eye doctors, for instance, might avoid suggesting the "association for the blind" with a patient facing a partial sight loss for fear of scaring them, meaning the group's life-changing services may never have reached some of their most deserving potential clients. The new name, Morgan says, "seemed more hopeful and inclusive."
Future In Sight can serve anyone from a person with 20/80 vision seeking some extra help to a fully blind child or adult, and their work varies as much as their clients.
"We're really innovating the way nonprofits operate and the way services are delivered," Morgan says. "Most people would consider sight loss as low-incident. In any given community, there may only be a few folks [suffering from sight loss]. But in a city like Manchester, there may be 2500 people living with profound sight loss — and that's 2500 people who could use our services."
How You Can Help
Future In Sight thrives on community involvement. From visiting their HQ to volunteering, here are a few ways you can get involved.
- Volunteering. If you'd like to donate your time and talents to Future In Sight, get in touch here. Volunteers can help with everything from driving clients to the ophthalmologist to reading to visually impaired seniors to helping balance spreadsheets in the main office.
- Donating. Donations are welcome at any time and can be made online here.
- Referrals. Do you have a loved one, neighbor or patient suffering from profound sight loss? Refer them to Future In Sight. Future In Sight accepts referrals from eye doctors, caregivers, relatives and more. Call the organization or email firstname.lastname@example.org to refer a patient — potential clients will immediately receive a social worker who can answer all of their questions.
- Peer support. If you yourself are living with sight loss, you could come on board as a peer support volunteer, in capacities from teaching new clients how to use technology you're already familiar with to coaching visually impaired kids in your favorite sport.
Finally, you can always participate in Future In Sight events. The next happening on the calendar is a community forum happening tomorrow at the Capitol Center for the Arts. The all-day conference is dedicated to exploring new frontiers of how to help New Hampshire's blind and visually impaired, and it's participant-led — sign up now if you're interested in jumping in on self-directed roundtables on sight loss topics from eye health technology to easing the high school to college transition for visually impaired students.
Interested community members can also stop by Future In Sight's HQ for guided tours on the first and third Wednesday of every month and can register for the group's annual Walk for Sight on June 3. Tune in this fall for the return of the group's "Dinners in the Dark" series for a unique opportunity to dine blindfolded at popular restaurants like Rudi's in Portsmouth to learn firsthand how sight loss patients experience a dinner out.
To learn more about Future In Sight and all the ways you can get involved, visit their website here.