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Blind and Visually Impaired Community Provides Essential Work During Pandemic  

Visually Impaired Advancement (VIA) is a local nonprofit that advances the lives, and changes the perception, of those in the blind and visually impaired community.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these community members have been helping with the manufacturing, packaging, warehousing, and distribution of high-demand, essential PPE products, including gloves for many large companies.

VIA also operates a 24/7 contact center and is the region’s provider of the 2-1-1 Health & Human Service Information and Referral Helpline. VIA’s Information & Referral Specialists, most of whom are legally blind, work to connect people to services and resources that are available in WNY, especially with call volume increasing nearly 300% from people seeking community assistance during the pandemic.

Other services provided by VIA’s blind and visually impaired staff include operating the VA Medical Center’s switchboards, as well as assisting Erie County Department of Social Services by answering people who need assistance with housing and shelter.

“We have an amazing team of committed staff members that are willing to work where they are needed most to help the community and agency during this very challenging time,” said Brooke Kibrick, VIA’s Marketing & Special Events Coordinator. “In addition to keeping our customers supplied with the products and services they need during the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to keep everyone in the agency working safely and being an active part of the community response.”

“We continue to operate the 211 WNY help-line providing our community with professionally trained individuals, many of whom are blind, to listen, problem-solve, and provide crucial information to help people understand their service options during this rapidly changing COVID-19 crisis,” added Kibrick.

We have an amazing team of committed staff members that are willing to work where they are needed most.

It’s instances like this when we truly begin to understand the importance of stalwart organizations such as VIA, that are extending essential services and supplies to communities in need, while providing critical employment during these uncertain times.

Get connected: Visually Impaired Advancement | 170 Main St. Buffalo, NY 14209 | Phone: 716-882-1025 | Website: olmstedcenter.org | Instagram: @via_wny

Written by Vilona Trachtenberg

Vilona Trachtenberg

30 Under 30 Award Winner in 2017. Freelance journalist, traveler, dancer, music fanatic, volunteer enthusiast. Loves meeting new people in any and all capacities and helping our beloved city flourish.

View All Articles by Vilona Trachtenberg
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