The Sight Center of Northwest PA was featured in the news as we began our fourth annual year of Snow Camp last Tuesday night in Asbury Woods. Read about how our Snow Camp is designed to help blind or visually impaired children and their siblings learn new skills, boost confidence, make new friends, and have fun. You can read more about it here.
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Future Leader Dog, ERIE, has been with his Sight Center family for almost four months already. During that time, he has graduated basic obedience classes, become ALMOST completely housetrained, met hundreds of new people, switched from puppy to adult dog food, and gained over 30 pounds in the process. ERIE has had many highs and lows, as all puppies do. So far, this sweet dog has maintained his quiet intelligence and loving temperament: just part of why WE LOVE ERIE so much!
Another milestone that ERIE has reached is quite poignant and meaningful: he has graduated from donning the bright blue Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy kerchief, and now fits powerfully & proudly into his Future Leader Dog training harness. Through much effort, ongoing practice, and a whole lot of patience, ERIE is slowly learning the very serious responsibilities that come with the honor of wearing a working dog harness.
The first year of training and socialization is a true challenge on many levels, for both pups and handlers. Both must learn by trial and error. Handlers struggle to adhere to very specific training guidelines and worry that their pups are staying on track. Handlers need to ensure their pups are practicing fundamental skills daily, staying healthy and developmentally stable, and steadily growing in confidence and maturity.
Puppies in training need to learn their place in changing environments. They need to become comfortable with a very wide variety of people, places, noises, smells, other animals, and any number of other distractions. Over the course of time, the goal is for the puppy to become practically unshakeable when he or she wears that working dog harness.
The road to becoming a Leader Dog for the Blind is not an easy one. ERIE is slowly learning that he is not a typical puppy, and that there are special rules that apply to him. When ERIE rides in the car these days, he knows that his designated place is on the floor of the passenger seat. He is realizing that he is not permitted to jump up on the furniture or sleep on the sofa, even though his big brother does it all the time. Most importantly, ERIE is starting to get the idea that when he is wearing his working harness, he needs to pay a little more attention to what is going on around him. When ERIE is in his harness, he needs to learn that he is “on the clock,” and playtime is suspended. So, the road for ERIE continues. Day by day, he grows and learns. His sweet puppy features are steadily morphing into those of a handsome adult Labrador before our very eyes. If you would like to be a part of ERIE’s journey as a Future Leader Dog, please call 455-0995, visit us at 2545 West 26th Street, follow ERIE on his Instagram, “@ErieTheEyeDog” or visit www.sightcenternwpa.org.
Erie, PA – October 23, 2017 – There are more than 56 rigorous standards that make up the Standards for Excellence that nonprofits must comply with as part of the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO) accreditation process. Only 50 organizations in Pennsylvania have earned this distinction, only two in Erie, PA. Since receiving a three year accreditation from PANO in October, the Sight Center of NW PA is now one of the two. The other accredited organization is Early Connections, a childcare and education center in Erie.
For the Sight Center, accreditation took about two years. PANO’s Standards for Excellence® covers eight areas of nonprofit governance, operations and management. “Achieving PANO accreditation means holding your organization to the highest level of standards. The process was grueling at times, working through policies and providing documentation on the agency’s procedures, but the work was worth the outcome. We are thrilled to have achieved this accreditation, it means a lot to us,” said Linda Hackshaw, the Sight Center’s Executive Director.
PANO evaluates fundamental values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability, all of which are inherently important in the nonprofit world. The Sight Center’s programs and services, management, fundraising and financial practices were subjected to in-depth examination prior to earning accreditation.
For more information about PANO or the Sight Center’s accreditation, please contact Shannon Wohlford at the Sight Center, 814-455-0995, or visit www.PANO.org.
For nearly 80 years, the Sight Center has worked to prevent blindness and promote independence for those with vision loss. Through prevention, vision rehabilitation and specialized support services, the Sight Center provides needed resources and hope to those with low vision or blindness. To learn more, visit online at SightCenternwpa.org or call 455-0995.
- PANO is a statewide membership organization. PANO amplifies the impact of the community benefit sector through advocacy, collaboration, learning, communication and support services.
- PANO have over 70 trained and approved volunteer peer reviewers supporting PANO’s standards program.
- PANO has accredited over 50 individual nonprofit organizations who have met all the requirements of the Standards accreditation program.
- The Standards for Excellence® is a national program to help nonprofits achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in profit governance, management, and operations.
- The accreditation process includes a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.
- Organizations that earn their initial accreditation are accredited for a term of three years. Organizations repeat the application process to renew their accreditation for five-year
- More information about PANO can be found at www.PANO.org
Linda Hackshaw and Shannon Wohlford recently joined Millcreek Township Supervisor John Groh to talk about how the Sight Center makes a difference in the community.
The Sight Center of NWPA partners with the United Way of Erie County to provide vision screenings to Erie County preschoolers like Reese. The screenings aim to prevent, detect and reduce visual impairment and handicap in local children.
In the winter of 2007, a strong sideways wind could blow snow through the windows at Vision and Blindness Resources – formerly known as The Blind Center, or more affectionately, “That Place on Cherry Street.” Something drastic had to be done.
We contacted the Erie Community Fund Drives Committee and got on the list for a potential capital campaign. We soon realized, however, that it wasn’t just the building that needed work. The entire internal structure of the agency needed a good overhaul. With all eyes on the future, the board, executive director and staff undertook exactly that – a complete organizational renovation. Tyco Swick, Executive Director for 46 years, retired and was replaced by Linda Hackshaw. New members were recruited to the board. Staff changes increased our professionalism and capacity to serve. We changed our name to The Sight Center to reflect the positive nature of our work and a new location was secured. Campaign counsel was hired, feasibility studies completed and a goal of $1.35 million was set. Then the market took the worst nosedive in recent history.
Undeterred, we set out to raise the money needed and the community responded with $1.4 million in donations. We are grateful to all those individuals and organizations that placed their faith in us and made a contribution to support the needs of those served by The Sight Center.