Center for visually impaired expands in Cumberland County, but obstacles remain

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — Blind and visually impaired people in Cumberland County are struggling to access resources meant for them. 

The Vision Resource Center’s larger location allowed them to expand their services and help more people, but the property is half a mile away from a city bus stop.  

The city of Fayetteville says they can’t expand the bus route onto county property, so the center is waiting on county leaders to apply for a transportation grant to drop members off right in front of the building.

“I don’t think it would be looking good for a bunch of blind people walking down that side of the highway trying to find their way to the building,” said Quince Lanford.

Lanford says the Vision Resource Center has changed his life.

“Half the battle is mental,” Lanford said. “It’s helped with the socialization aspect of not being home alone and being isolated.”

The retired U.S. Army veteran went blind 12 years ago after health issues. He says the center helps him be more independent, and a better advocate for others like him.

“A lot of times people don’t really see blind people out in the community,” Lanford said. “We just lost our vision, we didn’t lose our mind.”

Giovanna Gordon turned to the center after she became visually impaired.

“It gave me hope, it gave me something to do,” Gordon said. “It’s almost like another family.”

The center’s director Terri Thomas says until the county starts providing transportation, the VRC spends $150 a day three days a week to pick up members.

“As they’re working through the bureaucracy of it all, red tape and figuring it out and doing grants, we’re still sitting here without transportation,” Thomas said.

The county will be applying for a transportation grant to cover the nearly $50,000 annual cost. The city says they’ll provide a matching grant of up to $10,000.

Thomas says they aren’t sure when the process will be finished, but they are hopeful things will be worked out soon.

“I believe they’re going to do the right thing,” Lanford said. “We are going to continue to take the fight to them until we get what we want and what we need.”

The Vision Resource Center is hosting its annual fundraising event “Out of Sight” at Segra Stadium Saturday night.

The goal is to make the community more aware of the challenges they face and how they can help. 

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