History

A Century of Service

Alphapointe was founded nearly 100 years ago when a woman named Catherine Hale became frustrated at the lack of opportunities available for her brother who was blind. He was both capable and wanting to work and live independently, but at the turn of the 20th Century, very few options existed for employment and training for people with disabilities.

In 1911, when her brother joined The Workers for the Blind of Greater Kansas City, she began to accompany him to his meetings. What she learned there was that there were many people in Kansas City like her brother that were unable to find employment and care for themselves and their families. Catherine took it upon herself to change that. Five years later, in 1916, she helped the group incorporate as the Kansas City Association for the Blind. The Association started a workshop in 1918 that made brooms, mats and other hand-made items. What began in the living room of her home soon evolved into a profitable and unique business venture that was able to offer employment to several men and women who were blind.

In that same year, Mrs. Hale once again applied her considerable energies towards another issue facing the blind community in Kansas City; housing. Unfortunately, the world was not a very safe place for people who were blind, most especially for women who were blind. Many of these women were unnecessarily institutionalized because they simply had nowhere else to go. So, in 1916, as the result of a generous donation from Mr. Hiram Koller, the Catherine Hale Home for Blind Women opened its doors. The group quickly outgrew the first home at 2908 Flora Avenue and moved to 2918 Tracy Avenue, where it housed up to 40 women until the late 1980’s, closing only then because social services had finally caught up with the need for safe housing for women who were blind.

Continuing its tradition of providing an expanded array of services to people who are blind, Alphapointe looked for new ways to serve the community. With the help of the Junior League of Kansas City and the Delta Gamma Alumnae chapter, the Kansas City the Nursery School for Blind Children (now known as Children's Center for the Visually Impaired) was established in 1958.

In the mid-1980's, Alphapointe began providing rehabilitation services to seniors with vision loss. In 1993 the Kansas City Association for the Blind changed its name to Alphapointe Association for the Blind, to signify the organization’s role as the first point of contact for anyone in the community experiencing issues with vision loss. In the year 2000, Alphapointe further expanded its services by establishing the region’s only Comprehensive Vision Rehabilitation Center to provide training, education and advocacy to people with vision loss.

What began nearly a century ago in one woman’s living room in Northeast Kansas City has today evolved into the largest employer of people who are blind in the state of Missouri and the region’s leading provider of vision rehabilitation, education and advocacy to anyone experiencing vision loss, from age nine through the end of life. This year, Alphapointe employed 118  individuals who are blind or visually impaired; this is largest number of employees with vision loss in agency history.