Sights for Hope’s client population increased by 14% during its 2021-2022 service year, according to organizational data.
The organization had 623 clients with permanent visual impairments when it ended the year on June 30 while it had 545 clients one year prior. Sights for Hope enrolled 151 clients during the year while 73 clients withdrew or passed away. A total of 85% of those new clients live in Lehigh and Northampton counties.
Sights for Hope also provided services to 87 non-client patients in 2021-2022 through its low vision care centers and delivered prevention services – which include free vision screenings and community education programs – to 6,663 people during the year, according to organizational data. Meanwhile, key demographics remained stable among Sights for Hope’s client population – with approximately 85% of its clients residing in low-income households.
While Sights for Hope’s growth can be attributed in part to the deceleration of the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization has received feedback indicating that awareness has been increased in the since it changed its name in 2021 and increased its promotional efforts.
“We know that much of everyday life has resumed, but we also know that our message is reaching more people and that we are building an effective reputation,” said Dennis Zehner, Executive Director and CEO of Sights for Hope. “Most importantly, we know that there are many more people in our communities whom we can empower to be more self-sufficient. We intend to extend our growth substantially in the coming years.”
There are approximately 17,500 people ages 7 and older in Sights for Hope’s service area – which consists of Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley area and Monroe County – who experience difficulties seeing with corrective lenses or blindness, according to an analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Census Bureau.
Sights for Hope’s client and patient services include group and one-on-one life skills education sessions that teach vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, adaptive use of technology, and elemental life skills; casework support; guided transports that provide critical access to medical care, food supplies, and other essential needs; peer support groups; personal counseling; social and recreational activities; public service opportunities; functional low vision exams; and individualized consultations performed to match clients and patients with the assistive devices and technologies that best meet their needs.
Sights for Hope blends a service tradition inspired by Helen Keller nearly a century ago with contemporary practices to remove the barriers to independence and success caused by visual impairments. Along with its client and patient services, Sights for Hope provides free vision screenings for pre-kindergarten children and community education programs. Sights for Hope is an independent member of the Pennsylvania Association for the Blind (PAB) and is affiliated with the VisionServe Alliance, a network of North American agencies that serve people with visual impairments.
Image: Photo of a female Sights for Hope client picking an apple from an orchard.