Skip to navigation

History

The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio has a distinguished history of service to people throughout Northwest Ohio who are blind or visually impaired. Founded in 1923 as The Toledo Society for the Blind by members of the Lions Club, the Community Chest, the Toledo Rotary Club, and the Chamber of Commerce, the organization has not strayed from its original commitment: that all individuals who are blind or visually impaired should have the opportunity to live life with dignity and self-respect.

The Sight Center’s services have evolved to reflect society’s changing views about people with disabilities and technological advances. Today, The Sight Center serves an 18-county region in Northwest Ohio as well as parts of Southeast Michigan and Central Ohio, providing a unique blend of low vision programs and services that can help people of all ages work, learn, play, and live independently with permanent vision loss.

Check out our 100th anniversary celebration!

History Timeline

1923

      • Newspaper clipping from 1923 describing how the Toledo Society for the Blind will be starting soon- 1923Joseph F. Clunk, a prominent blindness advocate, who was also blind, interested members of the downtown Toledo Lions Club in forming an organization for services to Blind people.
      • Dr. Harry S. Will, a Professor of Sociology at Toledo University, was hired to conduct a study of 186 blind individuals from the community to determine the need for a Society for the Blind in the region.
      • The Toledo Society For The Blind was formed on 11-01-23.
      • For a short time, a room was rented at the Social Services building on 572 Ontario Street, before moving to two rooms rented at 136 Huron.
      • Happy Times and Progressive Clubs organized.
      • Became an affiliate of the Community Chest (United Way).

1925

      • Moved to the Valentine Building. Dance classes were held during their time in this location.

1927

Articles of incorporation letter from 1927

      • Toledo Society for the Blind incorporated on October 4th, paperwork officially filed the next day.

 

 

 

Newspaper picture of old house from Michigan Ave

      • Received $10,000 from the Edward Drummond Libbey estate.
      • An additional $3,500 was donated by board president Edward E. Evans, who took a second mortgage on his house (he was later paid back).
      • Moved to 718 Michigan Street, a 10-bedroom house.
      • Began sheltered workshop activities designed to provide gainful employment to blind members of the community.
      • A formal workshop was added in 1930.

 

 

 

 

 

1934

4 people standing in front of a record player, listening and smiling

      • Named distributor of Talking Books for Northwest Ohio. One of first 100 machines placed in the United States.

 

 

 

1942-19433 people in work shop working on liners

      • Workshop produced hundreds of thousands of waterproof liners to transport Jeep parts as part of the war effort.

 

 

 

1956

exterior shot of 1819 canton street

      • New building at 1819 Canton made possible by private donations from individuals, Lions and Zonta Clubs. Dedicated to Edward E. Evans on Sunday, June 17th.

 

 

1957John Goerlich right receives the board gavel from Edward Evans, left

      • Longtime board president Edward E. Evans retires and John Goerlich becomes the president for the next 20 years.

 

 

 

1959

Skilcraft logo in blue, red and black

  • Products manufactured from the workshop began to be sold under the Skilcraft trademark- a nationally recognized copyright for items manufactured by blind workers.
    2 christmas cards- 1 of an angel and one of a sleigh ride
    • Christmas Card Sale began and ran for 33 years.

 

 

1966

Woman on right testing eyesight of little girl on left.

      • “Operation Lazy Eye” launched to screen children’s eyes.

 

 

 

 

 

1967

1950s Maratha Dillon practices putting on make up as instructer Gail Sheffield oversees

      • Rehabilitation services began.

 

 

 

 

 

 

1968

Black and white photo of two women on left and 2 men on right as they examine a pair of glasses.

      • Eye Clinic established at St. Vincent Community Medical Clinic. The clinic was started as a result of a $5,000 contribution from the Toledo Lions Club.

1969

furnished kitchen area with 2 stoves. One is a gas stove and the other electricMade bed

      • Activities of Daily Living Apartment established.

1970

      • Low Vision Eye Clinic Opened at St. Vincent Hospital. Room rent and equipment are funded in part by the Lions Club. Six ophthalmologists volunteered their time every Thursday and Friday.

1978

National Accreditation Council Document from December 7th, 1978

      • Receive initial accreditation by National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). Accreditation has been maintained ever since.

1979

      • Agency renamed, “The Sight Center”; legal title remains Toledo Society for the Blind.

two people installing a window. Dressed for outdoor work.

      • First of two major renovations to the building, costing $247,300

1982

      • Weekly radio program began at Scott High School.

1984

Tom Day holds award

      • Introduced the John Goerlich Distinguished Service Award.

1985

      • Agency leases sheltered workshop to Zepf Community Mental Health Service – MERIT Industries.

1987Man working on elevator shaft

      • First Capital Funds Campaign raised money for the front lobby elevator.
      • Building renovated to become fully accessible for the community.

1989forground woman counts down.... far background, 2 women reading the news

      • SCAN, The Sight Center Audio Network, inaugurated – ran 17 years.

1990John Hirsch holding his Iris award

      • Introduced Iris Award for Volunteers.

1991

      • Established an endowment for children‘s eyeglasses with Jamie Farr Golf Classic support.

1992

Woman on left gives woman on right an eye examine

      • Opened the Vision Rehabilitation Service Clinic in October.

1996

      • The Sight Center received its first funding through Ohio’s Independent Living grant program.

2000

      • The Sight Center formed a relationship with Prevent Blindness Ohio (PBO).
      • Agency received its first funding through the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio.

2003

      • Agency renamed “The Sight Center of Northwest Ohio.”

2004

      • The Sight Center launched the Building a Vision for the Future Capital Campaign to raise $1.65 million for the property purchase and construction of a new building.

2007

Flyer announcing New Building on 1002 Garden Lake Parkway

      • Moved into new building in South Toledo at 1002 Garden Lake Parkway, Toledo, OH 43614

2015

woman on the right is helping to demonstrate a device to the woman on the left

      • Opened The Shop, a low vision products store, at The Sight Center.

2017

      • Longtime relationship with United Way of Greater Toledo ends due to dramatic changes in United Way funding priorities.

2019

      • Celebrated 40 consecutive years of national accreditation after successful AER certification process (formerly NAC).

2020

Little boy with adorable blue glasses, holding a green tablet

      • Expanded the Early Childhood Program to include home visits and specialized intervention services.

 

For even more pictures and stories check out our Flickr account here.