At the crossroads of advocacy and support, one local organization's mission is to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to reach their maximum potential.
“First and foremost, we're advocates. We're helping people with disabilities advocate for the services or support they need and to reduce the barriers in the community,” said John Guingrich, executive director for The League for the Blind and Disabled.
The impact of The League can be felt throughout the area. The organization serves 11 counties in northeast Indiana and continues to grow.
“Last year, we directly helped over 900 people with disabilities maintain or improve their independence through case coordination, care in their home and sign language interpreting services,” said Kevin Showalter, Youth Services Coordinator at The League.
“We have services we provide in homes, we have services we provide to kids, but most importantly, we're the advocates,” Guingrich said.
One client Guingrich said has benefited is Theresa, a 52-year-old blind woman whose last name has been withheld by the organization to protect her privacy.
She had been volunteering with The League for several years when her health began to deteriorate, and was admitted to a nursing home.
Theresa wanted to return home as soon as possible, but the nursing home staff believed she was unable to take care of herself because she was blind. She contacted the organization, and its advocates created a plan to send Theresa home with services that allowed her to live on her own. Within a month, Theresa was discharged from the nursing home.
This holiday season, The League is seeking tangible goods, such as shower chairs, to provide to those with disabilities so they are better equipped to live independently. The organization also needs volunteers, including drivers to take clients to support groups and other events.
Three Thursdays a month, volunteer drivers take clients with vision loss from their homes to a support group. The League receives many of its volunteers from service groups, but Guingrich said as people have grown older, they have retired not just from work, but volunteering as well.
“We've had a few times this year that in addition to volunteers driving, we've also got some staff going out and picking up folks, taking them away from other jobs that they're doing,” Guingrich said.
The League for the Blind & Disabled Inc.
5821 S. Anthony Blvd., Fort Wayne
Mission: To provide and promote opportunities that empower people with disabilities to achieve their potential.
Wish List: 4 rollator walkers, 4 battery-operated working scooters, 4 talking weight scales, 5 manual wheelchairs, 4 game buzzers for blind support group, 2 industrial-sized shredders, 4 talking thermometers, 4 talking blood pressure cuffs, 15 to 20 office mail slot system (wooden or plastic), any number of wash clothes and kitchen towels
Drop-off: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday