Florida Lions

Annual Report 2001-2002

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Message From the President and Executive Director

We were pleased to begin fiscal year 2001-2002 with wonderful news that the Florida Lions Conklin Centers for the Blind earned re-accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped (NAC). The re-accreditation process included a three-day on-site review by a team of professionals from around the country who are experts in service to persons who are blind. We are proud to report that NAC awarded its maximum five-year accreditation for all the Centers' programs. The review team commended us for our accomplishments and improvements, especially in community-based services, the Center's fastest-growing component for both children and adults. The Centers' voluntary submission to outside review and established standards of practice are marks of an agency that sets high expectations for quality and accountability.

The Conklin Center also enjoyed significant growth this year in our Early Intervention "Blind Babies" Program. In fact, we doubled the number of blind children and family members served through this vital program that helps blind children start school on an equal footing with their sighted peers. This increase in service delivery was achieved largely through improved outreach and innovative use of staffing and resources.

This year also marked the fifteenth year of service for our community-based Supported Employment and Supported Living Programs. These programs enable multihandicapped blind adults to live and work with dignity in our Florida communities. It is a source of great pride to us that we have been able to meet the needs of a growing number of new, successful graduates through these programs while keeping our commitment to previous graduates who have been long established in jobs and homes of their own. We continue to provide low-intensity community-based services to graduates who first entered the workforce and began living independently in 1988!

Finally, with the assistance of a grant-in-aid from the University of South Florida, the Center completed an extensive strategic planning process that will guide us as we seek to meet the growing need for the Centers' services in the years ahead. Just as when we opened our doors in 1979, the Florida Lions Conklin Center remains the only residential facility, as far as we know, whose adult services are devoted exclusively to providing vocational and independent living services for people who are blind and challenged by an additional disabling condition. Our success in future years will depend on our ability to nurture our relationships with those of you who support the Center while seeking new and expanded funding sources. Together, we have built an exemplary resource for some of Florida's most vulnerable citizens -- one that enables them to live meaningful lives. We thank everyone for your support and friendship. We look forward to continuing our work together to ensure our essential services are there in future decades.



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