Outlook Nebraska, Inc. Recently celebrated a major milestone with a ceremonial groundbreaking for expansion of our headquarters. The expansion is the largest in ONI’s history, and will feature more space for education, training and community engagement to support the blind and visually impaired.
ONI President and CEO Eric Stueckrath unveiled plans for the expansion in front of a crowd of business and community leaders, including Nebraska Lieutenant Governor Mike Foley, State Senator and ONI Board Member Merv Riepe, Mayor Doug Kindig of La Vista, Omaha City Council Member Garry Gernandt.Generous supporters of the organization, including Dorothy Pflug and Denise Lienemann Scholz of the Ethel S. Abbott Foundation, and Honorary Capital Campaign Chairman Dr. Stanley M. Truhlsen, were also present.
“The goal of the expansion is to further our mission of positively impacting everyone in the community who is blind or visually impaired,” said Stueckrath. “35,000 Nebraskans face vision loss today, and trends indicate this group will more than double by 2050. Based on the experiences of our associates and clients, we know there are significant gaps in services available in our community. With that in mind, we are launching this expansion project to be able to bridge those gaps, extend our services to the community, and create a more accessible and inclusive Omaha.”
According to the U.S. Labor Department, 70 percent of blind Americans who want a job are not able to find one. Advocates blame a lack of awareness—among both blind individuals and employers—of the adaptive technology available to help the blind perform certain job duties, such as using a computer and other electronic devices.
Once finished, the expansion will triple our capacity to provide adaptive technology training so that more individuals who are experiencing vision loss may gain independence and achieve their life goals. Plans for a community space are also featured in the expansion, which will allow us to accommodate large groups for educational programs that increase awareness of the capabilities of the blind and the availability of adaptive technology among community and business leaders. Our programs serve the visually impaired of all ages through employment, technology training and cultural and recreational activities.
The project is being supported by private donations and grants. Nearly $2 million has already been raised to support the project, and we are now asking our friends to help us raise approximately $1 million through our “Bridge the Gap” capital campaign. Supporters are encouraged to visit outlooknebraska.org/donations to make a charitable contribution.