The Adirondack region is fortunate to have a robust nonprofit sector that focuses on a range of issues and needs, from environmental protection and education to support for the business sector, social services, and much more. Many of these organizations are well-known, but we must not overlook the big impact that some of the more off-the-radar groups have in strengthening their communities and maintaining and improving quality of life for all. These community organizations embody the Spirit of Generosity, working in a smaller geographic area or with a more targeted demographic to serve the unique needs of individuals or families. They tend to be the kind of organizations that people don’t know about until they have a reason to find them.
The North Country Association for the Visually Impaired (NCAVI), for example, provides free assistance to people of all ages who suffer from a visual impairment. And while the needs of the people they serve may be more targeted, their scope is broad, reaching more than 200 people per year across a 7,550 square mile territory that includes Clinton, Essex, Franklin, and St. Lawrence counties.
Founded in 1989 by a group of eye care specialists, NCAVI assists those who are blind, legally blind, or visually impaired with obtaining or maintaining personal independence — people like Carmen Carpentier of Plattsburgh, who was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration several years ago.
An active community member, Carmen has volunteered with the Rotary Club and sings in her local choir. A two-time cancer survivor, she has always been proactive in taking on life’s hurdles, but she still needed a helping hand, as Macular Degeneration makes it difficult to see faces and distorts printed words — NCAVI was there to offer support by sending a Visual Rehabilitation Therapist to Carmen’s home.
The therapist worked with Carmen to make sure she could identify household objects. In some cases, that involved adding orange “bump dots” to degree settings on Carmen’s oven, in others it was tips on how to write checks, use an iPhone, or adjusting the thermostat. The goal is to give people back the parts of their life they thought were gone forever.
The biggest challenge for organizations like NCAVI is often funding. Smaller nonprofits that provide services at little or no cost rely on the generosity of individuals, foundations, and public support to carry out their missions. Adirondack Foundation has supported NCAVI through Generous Acts, and by stewarding their endowed fund that provides long-term security.
There are countless examples of nonprofits like NCAVI — small public libraries, animal shelters, food pantries — working in a specific place or with a specific population that are absolutely critical to the greater good in the Adirondack region. Adirondack Foundation is dedicated to doing everything we can to support them — and we hope you will join us.
All summer long, Adirondack Foundation is celebrating the Spirit of Generosity by highlighting stories about the generous people, organizations, and collaborations that enrich the lives of people in the Adirondacks. Every Saturday, Adirondack Almanack will share an essay by Cali Brooks, President and CEO, about some of the people and programs that Adirondack Foundation invests in and partners with to enhance the lives of people in the Adirondacks through philanthropy. Readers can win the opportunity to direct a grant to an organization that aligns with the Foundation’s Generous Acts program. To enter, simply create a social media post that captures what generosity means to you and tag Adirondack Foundation’s accounts.
Above: North Country Association for the Visually Impaired (NCAVI), photo by John DiGiacomo, provided by Adirondack Foundation