Charity for blind fights for funding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Inside the sun-lit auditorium at Selma High School, William Bowman spoke of how excited he was to be standing on stage addressing a small group of students.

As a graduate of Selma High, getting the chance to be in the spot light at his alma mater was a thrilling experience, especially considering the hardships he faced as a legally blind student.

Bowman was speaking to the students as part of a program through his Visually Impaired People organization that focuses on learning to live with disabilities.

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For the past three years, Bowman has been visiting schools to talk about how he made it through those difficult school years with the use of assisted technology.

Bowman said he has been getting a lot of good feedback from both teachers and students about his program, but eventually it may become harder for him to visit as many schools as he would like.

This year the non-profit V.I.P. has been hit with hard times financially.

Funding has been very low for the organization that provides support groups, recreation, and referral services to those who are blind or have low vision.

Even the Statewide Technology Access and Response (STAR) program, which has long been a supporter of V.I.P, could not offer their assistance this year due to major budget cuts.

If it wasn’t for funding from the Selma City Council, Bowman could not even afford to pay a driver to take him on his school visits.

The Selma Housing Authority offered V.I.P the use of one of their vans, but now the organization is looking for a way to get gas money to take trips.

V.I.P is currently trying to raise $27,000 to continue its operation.

Bowman said he is not drawing a salary for doing V.I.P projects, and a large majority of the money raised by the organization goes toward providing visually impaired people with a means to venture out from their everyday life.