Program to help visually impaired elderly loses funding - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Program to help visually impaired elderly loses funding

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CARBONDALE -- The Southern Illinois Center for Independent Living is losing a vital program that helps more than 60 people with visual impairments.

"We were notified by the Department of Human Services that our Elderly Blind Grant will no longer be funded," said executive director Bonnie Vaughn.  

Vaughn said she was shocked to learn that a federal grant her office has received for more than 20 years would not be making it to her facility this year. In fact, no facility for the visually impaired south of Belleville received the grant this year, and they didn't receive an explanation as to why. 

Beth Miller, the program director, fears many in the program won't be able to maintain their independent lifestyle without that grant money.

"I worry a lot about them. I mean, there is going to be some that are going to be going to nursing homes because they can't do for themselves," said Miller. 

Marilyn Sanders has been part of the program for more than 15 years, and says it's helped her live a normal life despite having poor vision. The program provided her with a special magnifier to help her read, something she calls "life changing." 

"I carry it with me all the time. It has a light on it and it magnifies where I can ready everything. So it's just like my right arm," said Sanders. 

Vaughn says the center is gathering petitions trying to get the grant money so they can maintain services, because if not, these folks will be left without any help with their day to day routine.  

"There are no options. There are no blind services in southern Illinois," said Vaughn.  

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