Visions of Greatness Building – Groundbreaking
1001 N Bruce Street, Las Vegas, NV 89101
|WHEN: April 27th from 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
WHERE: Blind Center of Nevada
THE COMPLETE STORY
The Blind Center of Nevada is one of Las Vegas’ oldest 501c3 charities. The concept for the Blind Center actually began in 1934 with F. Marion Keele’s vision to create a place that would offer help and employment to people who were blind like himself. After Keele’s death in 1955, one of his students filed Articles of Incorporation for an organization called “Southern Nevada Sightless.” In 2002, it became known as the Blind Center of Nevada.
The mission of the Blind Center is to assist people who are blind or visually impaired in reaching their highest physical, social, intellectual, and economic potential. To achieve these objectives they pursue three focus areas: personal development, social interaction, and provident living. The Blind Center serves to enable the blind community to find hope, learn independence, and pursue personal greatness.
How do you restore meaning and purpose to a life that’s gone dark? For many the journey begins with the search for HOPE. Struggling to get around is a basic concern Hope emanates from the Blind Center, a joyful place where people are constantly rediscovering hope and love for life.
As hope begins to return, members are taught to LIVE INDEPENDENTLY. The Blind Center employs professionally certified trainers to teach mobility training and to monitor the ongoing independence and health of the members.
The third step is the PURSUIT OF GREATNESS. This is a never-ending step. We are all born with an innate desire to do great things. That desire doesn’t disappear just because one loses their sight. The Blind Center provides its members with platforms that allow them to strive for greatness. These paths are pursued at the center through programs like music, art and fitness.
One of its most important parts of its mission and a key path to greatness is to employ its members. Statistically, 80 percent of people with vision loss in Las Vegas live at or below the poverty level and roughly 60% of people who are blind are unemployed. The Blind Center’s revenue-generating electronic recycling business accounts for approximately 65% of the Blind Center’s operating budget and 50% of its employees are blind or visually impaired. Due to the growth of this enterprise, the Blind Center found itself needing to increase its capacity to process more electronics.
The Blind Center is currently building an education program offering high school degrees and college courses. Future endeavors made possible by a new building will include event planning, catering, audio engineering, a call center and America’s first culinary arts academy for people who are blind. This is the vision for a great future for those without sight in Nevada.
The current campus of the Blind Center consists of three buildings. The oldest of these buildings houses a revenue-generating electronic refurbishing and recycling business which was started in 2000. This business was born both out of the need to generate funds to support the Blind Center programs as well as to provide jobs and job training for its members. As the only certified R2 recycling facility in Las Vegas, it offers professional electronic asset removal and recycling for both residential and commercial customers. The Blind Center processes over 2 million pounds of electronic waste, keeping these materials out of landfills. Many large corporations in the Las Vegas Valley use this service, such as Cox Communications, Caesars Entertainment, Valley Health Systems, MGM as well as all the city offices in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson and Boulder City.
Blind Center marked trucks go to these locations, where uniformed Blind Center technicians load the donated electronic equipment into trucks and take these items back to the Blind Center where items are assessed and classified for either refurbishing or recycling. The work is done by Blind Center employees, 50% of whom are blind or visually impaired. Recycled items are then dismantled and packed appropriately for the recycling process. Refurbished computers are repaired and made ready for resale, some of which are refurbished and sold on eBay. All of the proceeds of the Business Enterprise Division go to support the programs at the Blind Center. This accounts for approximately 65% of the Blind Center’s operating budget.
The Blind Center’s electronic refurbishing and recycling business has become so successful that it has grown well beyond the capacity of its current building. Built in 1960, this building is not consistent with today’s life-safety codes. The cost of improvements would be prohibitive. In order for both the business and its programs to grow, it is imperative that a new building be constructed that can accommodate much needed expansion.
The Blind Center evaluated moving to a new location, and had several opportunities to do so; however, the most frugal, most prudent, though perhaps not-the-sexiest option was to stay at the current location where the Blind Center has resided for 55 years. Thus, the condition of this Business Enterprise building prompted the Center to initiate the “Visions of Greatness” Capital Campaign.
We plan to construct a new 36,000-square-foot combined Program & Employment Building. This building will replace the current 8,000-square-foot employment building built in 1960. It will feature modern-industrial style design and consist of two areas:
1) Member Services Area: At the building front, a 16,000 square foot, two-story Member Services Area includes a mezzanine for openness and flexibility. It will also have a stage, meeting hall, several class rooms, a new kitchen for the Blind Center’s culinary arts program and event business and most importantly, more space to accommodate new members. Further, this large meeting area will be rentable thus providing both new catering and serving jobs for Blind Center members and additional income to the center.
2) Business Enterprise Division: The back of the building will house the successful electronic refurbishing and recycling business including a warehouse and loading dock with ample room for employees to work inside rather than outdoors as they currently do. In addition, this space will be utilized to increase the number of assembly items we produce through the National Industries for the Blind and to create a call center to employee more of its members.
The new building will be built using economical tilt up construction and also utilize durable, easy-to-clean finishes. To make this project possible, the Blind Center of Nevada recently acquired the neighboring 1.66-acre property (a former Moose Lodge), in part through a generous donation made by well-known philanthropist Beverly Rogers, a longtime friend and supporter of the Blind Center.
The community has shown great support for this incredible project. The Engelstad Family Foundation provided $3 million in funding and the Blind Center’s board of directors have contributed more than $2 million to the campaign. The City of Las Vegas and its Economic and Urban Development team has demonstrated its support – from the mayor, to the city manager, to city councilman and other community leaders have helped create a path to see the “Visions of Greatness Building” increase the opportunities for those with blindness in Nevada. The completion of the building set for late 2017.