Vision Information and Programs (VIP)
The Lynchburg community has been active in supporting programs for people with visual impairments since the 1930s, beginning with a basket weaving program for blind people that was held at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lynchburg. By 1980, Peakland Baptist Church was running the basket weaving class for people. In 1982 when Interfaith Outreach Association (originally Kum- ba- Yah) was founded, Pastor Nathan Brooks of Peakland Baptist Church who was also a founder of Interfaith Outreach Association decided to turn the basket weaving class over to Interfaith Outreach Association.
Upon surveying the changing vision needs of the community over a 2 year period beginning in 2011, IOA discovered that there was an ever-growing number of people with new vision needs that were not being serviced. IOA decided it was time to do something to help this underserved community. In 2012, the basket weaving classes returned to the faith community as Calvary Baptist Church took over facilitation of the group. In an effort to promote goodwill in our community, members of the basket weaving class joined together to form the Pay It Forward program. Participants in this program volunteer locally as a thank you to those who have volunteered with them and in hopes that they can inspire others to do the same. Spending time at the Lynchburg Humane Society volunteering to socialize with the cats is one of the many ways the Pay It Forward program gives back to the community. IOA’s newly revamped vision program, VIP (Vision Information and Programs) began September 2013 and consists of the following components:
- VIP Speaker Series — Experts from the Piedmont Eye Center and the Virginia Department of Blind and Visually Impaired (VDBVI) conduct presentations on specific vision conditions and adaptive resources available for maximizing an independent lifestyle. All VIP speaker series events are free and open to the public.
- VIP Support Groups — Facilitated by VIP Coordinator Julie Gerhardt, individuals and their caregivers meet monthly to share and discuss the challenges and solutions to making lifestyle changes to adjust to loss of vision. All VIP support group meetings are free and open to the public.
- VIP Information Stations — VIP Coordinator, Julie Gerhardt will be available at scheduled times and places within the community to match individuals with visual challenges with resources available in the community to improve their quality of life. VIP information stations are free and open to the public.
- VIP Volunteers — Volunteers are needed to be trained to provide free transportation for visually challenged to medical appointments and grocery shopping. Extensive background checks are required, which include driving record, insurance coverage and criminal background. People with visual challenges in need of transportation will be processed through the VDBVI assistance program. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, please fill out this application and return it to the address on the application.
- Pay It Forward Program — Participants in the VIP programs volunteer in the community to promote the continuance of giving back. Often, these volunteers can be found at the Lynchburg Humane Society socializing with the animals to help them transition smoothly into new homes.
During 2015, the VIP program was able to benefit 468 people. For more information on participating in our VIP program, please contact Julie Gerhardt, Coordinator of Vision Information and Programs (VIP), at 434.846.6098 or firstname.lastname@example.org.