Monday, May 11, 2009
Envision, the only comprehensive, multi-disciplinary low vision rehabilitation center in the region, has raised $3,366,000 in funding through its “Beyond 20/20 Campaign,” securing challenge grants of $450,000 from the Mabee Foundation of Tulsa, Okla. and $150,000 from the K.T. Wiedemann Foundation of Wichita, Kan.
“We are incredibly excited,” said Campaign Chairperson Dave Unruh. “Given the state of the economy, we are thrilled to secure these significant challenge grant dollars. We are tremendously grateful to nearly 600 donors who helped us secure these grants as we gut out and renovate the Envision Low Vision Rehabilitation Center, allowing us much needed additional space for programs and services.”
Appreciation was also extended by Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson, a V.I.P. attendee at Envision’s 75th anniversary gala celebration. “The services the Envision Low Vision Rehabilitation Center provides are key to the independence of people who are blind or living with low vision in Kansas. I congratulate Envision and its supporters on their success, and know that Kansans who are blind or low vision will be well served.”
According to Unruh, the $3 million campaign was launched in November of 2007 with an original three-year timeline. A $1 million lead gift from Gene and Rita Bicknell and the Bicknell family placed Envision in a position to meet with the Mabee Foundation in the spring of 2008. With the new timeline, the campaign would be completed in less than two-years.
“All was going well until the fall of 2008 when the Recession began,” said Unruh. “But the fact that we secured our goal raising over $1 million in gifts and pledges since January 1, 2009, speaks volumes about this community’s desire to see the low vision rehabilitation center become a reality.”
Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) forecasts a nationwide low vision epidemic by the year 2020, due greatly to the aging of 79 million baby boomers. Kansas has the 5th highest prevalence of low vision in the United States.
“This campaign is our opening salvo in addressing the impending epidemic,” said Linda K. Merrill, Envision CEO. “We are committed to helping those who are blind or struggling with low vision.”
Just over $3 million was raised for capital and equipment, fulfilling the requirements necessary to secure the challenge grants. Another $300,000 was secured for programs and services.
“We are deeply appreciative of all of those who said ‘yes’ and joined the campaign,” said Merrill. “Their contributions are making lives better for thousands, now and in the future.”
“This campaign succeeded because of the strong generosity of donors and the tremendous leadership of Unruh and Merrill,” said John Marstall, chair of the Envision Board of Directors. “We had significant concerns when the Recession hit that the goal may not be reached. But the Board was mindful that our organization was founded in the midst of the Great Depression out of a deep need in the community for our programs and services. The community supported that need then and has once again provided overwhelming support for expanding services and programs for people who are blind or low vision.”