Omaha Association of the Blind – Building On Excellence
We are here to stay!
Over several decades, OAB continues to grow and respond to the blind and visually impaired community. As needs change, so do we, and we are in the business of sharing our collective knowledge!Our dedication is evident in what we do, and how we do it!
A Proud & Strong Foundation
Our Foundation has shown commitment with purposeful, meaningful practices and strong financial roots! Plus, we are the longest-standing organization in Omaha, responding to the legally blind, and we remain dedicated to our mission statement.
Our Mission Statement – Continuing to Build on Tradition
Promoting the social, intellectual and economic welfare of the legally blind in Omaha, through networking & collaboration.
Building on a Proud History
Since our first meeting in 1922 with only a few blind people in attendance, to the now 80+ members choosing to spend the 3rd Tuesday of each month with us, our membership steadily grows. By finding fellowship, entertainment and a place to feel at home, OAB remains committed to being the place the legally blind can count on to find a community that understands!
Omaha Association of the Blind est. 1922
1920’s – Our Beginning
The Omaha Association of the Blind, (OAB,) was conceived in the 1920’s in a small workshop on Harney Street where blind people worked to earn money making rugs. The co-workers recognized the value and potential that exist when they exchanged information and encouragement. They started off meeting regularly together in the home of Ethel Doty, and continued to do so for several years.
1930’s – Regular Meetings Promote Growth
In the 1930’s, the group continued to meet regularly together, primarily for socialization, in various homes in the Omaha Area. Group participation steadily increased in size.
1940’s – We Become A Non-Profit Organization & Offer Meaningful Employment
In the 1940’s, the group grew to a large enough size that they could no longer meet in homes. In 1946, the Omaha Association of the Blind incorporated and received non-profit charitable status from the IRS. White Cane drives, support from individuals and civic organizations, helped OAB purchase a building at 2709 Leavenworth. This property provided a craft shop space for the blind to be employed, caning chairs and stuffing envelopes. It also provided space in the upstairs clubhouse to host monthly meetings, and hold social events. The blind enjoyed gathering together to play cards, dance and visit. There were Braille magazines and books available to read and borrow.
1950’s – Land Purchase of Our Current Home : 1024 South 32 Street
In the 1950’s, OAB bought a house and two acres at 1024 S 32 Street as rental property. The organization began to discuss the great need for accessible, quality built, affordable housing for the growing blind population in Omaha. OAB sponsored dinners, annual dances, bingo, and sold tickets to movies as fundraisers.
1960’s – Walter B Roberts Generous Gift & Increasing Need for Quality Housing
In 1960 Mr. Walter B. Roberts bequeathed a $100,000 donation to OAB. This made it financially possible to develop a better housing option addressing the poor living conditions in which many of the blind were living. Given generous support from individuals, civic organizations, a $72,000 grant from the Eppley Foundation, and a $425,000 mortgage, all combined to fund the building project.
1967 – OAB & HUD – Establish a Community
In 1967, a separate non-profit corporation was established for Walter B. Roberts Manor. OAB members help serve as trustees on the Board of Directors because they understood the housing needs of the blind and disabled. It was determined that it would be best to have the apartment leasing, onsite management, regular maintenance, and on-going governmental HUD compliance functions managed by a qualified professional property management firm.
The Manor is Completed
In early 1969, a four story, 37,000 square foot, 42-unit apartment building was completed. The accessible and affordable apartment building is located at 1024 South 32 Street and named in memory of Walter B. Roberts.The success of the apartment building project increased OAB’s visibility in Omaha. Citizens and civic organizations recognized the value of Walter B. Roberts Manor, and they appreciated the leadership demonstrated in the blind and disabled community who were actively involved in the housing project, knowing of the increasing need for independent-living housing options.
1970’s – 1980’s – New Meeting Home & Response to Increasing Community Needs
In the 1970’s and 1980’s, OAB began to hold their meetings at Walter B. Roberts Manor since a number of the members lived on-site. Occasionally, they would prepare dinners to enhance the fellowship experience at the meetings and socials. OAB continued to help fund additional enhancements to the Manor that the original project and mortgage did not include. The OAB Board of Directors started a tradition of giving each of the residents at Walter Roberts Manor a small gift just before Christmas each year.
1990’s – 2000’s – OAB Supports Entities & Services for the Blind
Over the years, the Board of Directors and membership has demonstrated initiative and leadership serving the blind. In the 1990’s and 2000’s, in addition to meeting regularly together, OAB helped support and encourage the following services and programs:
- Radio Talking Book Service (RTBS):
- Offers reading service for the blind and visually impaired persons living in Nebraska and surrounding states.
- Share A Fare Inc.:
- A cab subsidy program for residents of the Greater Omaha area who are not able to drive due to a legally blind diagnosis.
- Weigel Williamson Center for Visual Rehabilitation:
- Helping to make costly low vision aids available to those needing extra help.
- Visually Impaired Peer Support Groups of Nebraska:
- Providing funding to transport older blind people to their annual statewide VIPS(Visually Impaired Person’s) conferences.
- Camp Abilities:
- In 2012, OAB’s Board of Directors pledged to help fund an inaugural Camp Abilities summer camping experience for blind & blind/deaf youth of Nebraska. The first camp was held in 2013 and was a huge success. Future camps have been held annually, and OAB continues to offer their support.
- OAB Newsletters & Web Site:
- Summer and winter newsletters and a website were developed to promote the value of OAB to community leaders and the next generation of the blind. Newsletters are added to the web site, once a publication has been distributed to our membership.
- Our Web site is constantly being updated with current events, additions to our calendar, along with links to resources and services which directly impact the blind and visually impaired community – Check back often!
2015 and Beyond – Building on Our Continued Success!
legally Blind individuals continue to encounter difficulties that are often too great to overcome alone. Going forward, OAB remains committed to meeting together regularly for socialization and encouragement, and remains eager to support the necessary work, to help make Omaha a better place to live for the legall blind.
We Need Your Help to Continue
As Omaha and the incidence of blindness continues to grow, so does membership participation and the on-going need to support RTBS, Share A Fare, and The Weigel Williamson Center. If you would like to help us continue our work, please consider making a donation. Plese click on this link to OAB Donations
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