LEONARDO, NJ – You’ve visited medical eye specialists (ophthalmologists) because your vision has been deteriorating and glasses or contacts no longer seem to help. You are diagnosed with a serious eye condition such as macular degeneration or glaucoma. Treatment options have run their course and you are told you may become legally or totally blind. Where can you turn for help and support to cope with such a traumatic, life changing event?
Since 1910, New Jersey Blind Citizens Association has had as its mission, bettering the lives of individuals suffering from vision loss and blindness. The organization started as a summer camp from a couple of rented bungalows in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. It was then known as New Jersey Blind Men’s Club. Some members of the club were instrumental in founding what is now the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually impaired.
As the organization grew, new facilities were needed and, thanks to support from the Hall family, in 1930, the club moved to Burlington Avenue in Leonardo, New Jersey. For decades, blind men came from all areas of the state to enjoy summer activities on the Jersey shore while residing at Camp Happiness. Eventually, the (then) New Jersey Blind Men’s Association ran a workshop in which participants who were blind made bed linens for use by the prison system throughout New Jersey.
In 1967, the Ladies Auxiliary was formed in support of the organization and its mission. Of its many contributions, the Ladies Auxiliary started a thrift shop. Known today as Ann’s Thrift Shop, it is a very vital means of support for the organization. In the 1980’s, women became members of the organization and its name proudly became the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association (NJBCA). Since 1987, the Association has operated the Helen and Heinz Wobser Day Camp Program, offering services to blind and visually impaired adults three days a week at the current campus on Burlington Avenue in Leonardo, just across the street from the former camp building.
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PHOTO: Charles and Bernice Clay show some produce from a garden at New Jersey Blind Citizens Association. Credit: Ruth Korn
Currently, however, along with everyone else, we have suffered the devastating effects of the Covid 19 pandemic. The day program has been closed since March 2020. We are currently in need of a new Director and a new driver for our van that picks up those attending the Camp.
We are looking to fill these critical positions as soon as possible so that operations can be resumed, once the state authorities allow us to reopen. During this crisis, our participants have been hard hit by the forced isolation due to the pandemic. This same loneliness and isolation is felt by many blind and visually impaired persons who don’t know where to turn for help.
NJBCA hopes to reopen its doors to visually impaired adults. If you would like to join our family of participants with whom you can share experiences as well as activities such as arts and crafts, chair yoga, learning computer skills, and becoming aware of helpful products and services, we extend a heartfelt invitation to join us.
New Jersey Blind Citizens Association
18 Burlington Avenue
Leonardo, NJ 07737
Phone: (732) 291-0878
Please call the number listed above to let us know of your needs and desire to become part of our group. If you have some time to give to volunteer to help us, we’d also love to hear from you.
Finally, if you have administration skills or driving skills, perhaps are retired, and interested in working with the blind and visually impaired, please email your information or send a letter/resume to: [email protected]
Mr. L. Caminiti
6 Shire Way
Middletown, NJ 07748
We are waiting to hear from you and welcome you into our family.