Areawide Aging, NewView Oklahoma, United Way of Central Oklahoma and Department of Human Services announced a new initiative to serve seniors at a press conference on Thursday.

Oklahoma City, OK (January 8, 2020) – Vision loss was recently declared a public health emergency by the Center for Disease Control, but the COVID-19 pandemic has escalated the effects of vision loss on our senior community.

Due to social-distancing, combined with the inability to cope with blindness, our seniors are facing increased isolation, loss of hope, threat of injury, and the prospect of losing their independence.

On January 7, Areawide Aging Agency and NewView Oklahoma, along with the Department of Human Services and United Way of Central Oklahoma, held a press conference to announce an upcoming partnership to serve vulnerable Oklahoma seniors with vision loss.

This new program targets 100 seniors with vision loss aged 60 or older in Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, and Logan counties. Together, Areawide Aging and NewView will provide these seniors with the specialized services they need to immediately mitigate the increased isolation and keep them mentally strong, physically healthy, and living independently.

“We believe now is the right time to partner with NewView to expand and support their services for seniors who are isolated at home during the pandemic,” said Blair Schoeb, CEO of Areawide Aging Agency. “We are excited about this relationship and the opportunities it provides for seniors across Oklahoma.”

One in six Oklahomans is impacted by potentially debilitating vision loss. Of this number, more than 65 percent are adults over the age of 60. But only about 3% of seniors with vision impairment have access to rehabilitation services.

“This program is absolutely transformative, not just for NewView, but for all the seniors in our community,” said Lauren Branch, NewView president and CEO. “This generous financial support from Areawide Aging will reinforce and revitalize our services that are key in keeping our seniors across Oklahoma safe and independent.”

Also present at the conference was Debby Hampton, president and CEO of the United Way of Central Oklahoma. Both Areawide Aging and NewView are United Way agencies, and this new partnership provides a unique opportunity for collaboration and teamwork.

“We know that when we work together, we can truly accomplish so much more than we can on our own,” Hampton said during her remarks. “This partnership is the perfect example.”

Justin Brown, director of the Department of Human Services (DHS), attended and made his remarks via video, expressing support of this initiative on behalf of DHS.

“Quite frankly, this partnership between NewView Oklahoma and Areawide Aging Agency could not come at a better time,” Brown said. “It is a New Year, and now is the time to serve our seniors in better, bolder, and more creative ways. That’s exactly what this partnership will do.”

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About Areawide Aging Agency:
Areawide Aging Agency is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the dignity and independence of older adults in Canadian, Cleveland, Logan, and Oklahoma counties. For over 40 years, Areawide has assessed the needs of seniors and coordinated programs to allow older adults to live safely in their own home for as long as possible. Visit online at www.areawideaging.org or call (405) 942-8500 to find out how we can help the seniors in your life.

About NewView Oklahoma:
NewView Oklahoma is a private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1949 with a mission to empower people who are blind and vision impaired to achieve their maximum level of independence through employment, low vision rehabilitation, and community outreach. NewView is the leading employer of blind and visually impaired individuals in Oklahoma and offers the only comprehensive Low Vision clinics in the state. Visit online at www.newviewoklahoma.org or follow on Facebook and on Twitter.

About United Way of Central Oklahoma:
United Way of Central Oklahoma researches human needs within the communities of central Oklahoma and directs resources to accountable health and human services agencies to meet those needs by improving the health, safety, education and economic well-being of its most vulnerable citizens. For more information about United Way of Central Oklahoma, please visit www.unitedwayokc.org or call (405) 236-8441.