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Our History

Clients and caregivers, volunteers and staff, business partners and supporters are collectively the reason why, 100 years after its founding, Vision Loss Resources continues to be a valuable, innovative, and well-respected organization. Our history is defined by the people who have championed our mission to be a community of services, skills, and support for people with vision loss, stretching all the way back to our founding in 1914.

In the early 20th century, a group of volunteers came together to work alongside people in Minneapolis who were visually impaired or blind. It was a time of change and progress. New opportunities were developed for people with vision loss in an effort to promote greater independence and integration into the larger society.

In this spirit of community awareness and support, the Minneapolis Society for the Blind, the precursor to Vision Loss Resources, was founded in 1914.

1910s

The Minneapolis Society for the Blind is founded in 1914, partly inspired by Helen Keller’s speech at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis. In Saint Paul, Mutual Aid Blind Association grows with support from the Council of Jewish Women.

1920s

Programs grow with support from the Community Chest (precursor to United Way) and the Amherst Wilder Foundation.

1940s

Minneapolis Society for the Blind moves to the corner of Lyndale and Franklin Avenues, the same location where Vision Loss Resources’ Minneapolis campus still thrives.

1950s

Saint Paul Society for the Blind is founded in 1955.

1960s

We pioneer community outreach with support from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Wellness.

1970s

Diabetes-related vision loss is the focus of a special service program in Minneapolis.

1980s

The peer mentoring program unites people who have vision loss or blindness. The low-vision program evaluates vision loss and trains people to use magnification devices. Manufacturing diversifies in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

1990s

Vision Loss Resources is created by the 1993 merger of the Saint Paul Society for the Blind and the Minneapolis Society for the Blind.

2000s

DeafBlind Services Minnesota, LLC joins Vision Loss Resources in 2005. Contract Production Services is the new name for the packaging and manufacturing division of Vision Loss Resources. The Community Center is founded after clients requested monthly social, educational, and recreational activities.

2014

Vision Loss Resources celebrates its 100-year anniversary with philanthropy, community outreach, and preparation to meet the increasing demand for services.

2015

The launch of our Low Vision Clinic provides our clients with a consultation with an optometrist for in-depth personalized recommendations to help with vision issues.

2016

Vision Loss Resources continues to grow and evolve with new and exciting programs and initiatives underway to meet an increasing demand for services.

 

The number of people with age-related vision loss is expected to increase substantially in coming years; we are responding to this need with the same energy, passion and resourcefulness that has become synonymous with our services and programs. And as we look to the future, we recognize that our ongoing success is a testament to the community that has made us who we are.

Historical research by Penny Petersen and Charlene Roise of Hess Roise Historical Consultants.