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WINDSOR HILLS : Blindness Foundation Expanding

June 25, 1995|ERIN J. AUBRY

The massive mounds of overturned earth at the hilltop campus are sending up dust and blocking paths in Windsor Hills. But to officials at the Foundation for the Junior Blind, they are a welcome and long-awaited sign of progress.

The foundation, at 5300 Angeles Vista Blvd., recently kicked off construction of facilities that will house a children's residential center, dining hall and student services building.

The foundation annually serves about 4,000 blind, visually impaired and other disabled children and adults and their families. The construction, expected to last two years, is at the heart of a $10-million face lift, the largest commitment of private monies for improvements in campus history.

"It's been tough because these are hard economic times," said spokeswoman Dena Schulman. "But we have a tremendous commitment to the school and this community."

The nonprofit foundation offers a range of services at low cost to clients, including summer camps, education and computer facilities, living skills programs and in-home infant services.

The two-story, 47,000-square-foot building under construction will house a children's residential center, dining room and administration center.

Jerry Arakawa, director of adult and program services, said the facility will streamline staff operations by giving employees a central viewing area that connects several wings.

Schulman said the foundation's board decided to stay in Windsor Hills although many of the buildings--which date to the 1920s, when the site was a military school--were not worth renovating.

The foundation has been a fixture in the community since locating there in 1963. It recently honored its 600 volunteers, many of whom live in the area.

Audubon Middle School and 54th Street Elementary School have worked with foundation children on art and other projects. The foundation's First Steps program employs local youths as counselors in its summer camps and during the year.

Arakawa, who recently instituted a foundation Visions program that challenges participants with skiing, hiking and other activities, said the building improvements come at an opportune time.

"We offer unique experiences for the blind to promote self-esteem and confidence," he said. "We teach them that not only can they learn things, they can master them."

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