Zion Kitchen and The Blind Center find unique collaboration

Published 5:39 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

Two local, nonprofit United Way agencies recently joined forces to help meet the needs of local visually impaired clients.

For several years, The Blind Center of North Carolina (located in Washington) has been offering lunch (free of charge) to clients involved in its weekly programs. After reviewing the budget for its food expense at the end of the last fiscal year, it became evident that the Center was absorbing a large portion of its funding into food.

“Although it may not appear to others to be a major expense to feed 12-15 clients three times per week, we recognized that by continuing to allocate this amount of resource into food, the center would be unable to invest in the assistive technology program, which we believe is instrumental for those who are low-vision and blind,” said the center’s executive director, Liz Liles.

Hearing of the center’s predicament, Zion Kitchen (which has provided hot lunches for 35-40 needy citizens of the city each weekday of the year for more than 30 years) offered to bring lunches from its kitchen to the center three Wednesdays a month.

The partnership with Zion has allowed the center to redirect the funds that it was spending weekly on client meals to invest in education, job-training and personal development through the assistive technology training.

Echoing the sentiments of its boards’ members and volunteers, Liles and Zion board chairman Polk Culpepper issued a joint statement affirming that, “It is an absolutely beautiful thing when two nonprofit organizations are able to connect and partner together to serve the community. We are firm believers that we can always do more together.”

Programs at the center are offered free of charge to all individuals who are impacted by low-vision and blindness. Classes are held on Tuesday-Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

Submitted by Liz Liles, executive director of The Blind Center of North Carolina, and Polk Culpepper, Zion Shelter and Kitchen’s board chairman.