Our History

Our History


Alphapointe was founded over 100 years ago by Catherine Hale. She became frustrated at the lack of opportunities available for her brother who was blind. Her brother was capable and wanted 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.

Black and white image of Catherine Condon Hale

In 1911, when her brother joined The Workers for the Blind of Greater Kansas City, she began to accompany him to his meetings. She learned there were many people in Kansas City like her brother that were unable to find employment and care for themselves and their families.

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 handmade items. What began in the living room of her home soon evolved into a profitable business venture that was able to offer employment to several men and women who were blind.

Mrs. Hale once again applied her considerable energies towards finding housing for the blind. And also in 1916, with just $50, she and a group of friends opened the Catherine Hale Home for Blind Women. The group quickly outgrew the first home at 2908 Flora Avenue and moved to 2918 Tracy Avenue, where it expanded through a generous donation from Mr. Hiram Kollar. Forty women lived in the house until the late 1980’s, closing only then because social services had finally caught up with the need for safe housing alternatives for women.

Image of framed Recognition from Committee on Purchases of Blind Made Products that was presented to Alphapointe by Helen Keller in 1955
Black and white image of female employees making envelopes in our former workshop
Black and white image of our former broom workshop in the 60's. Our foreman shaking hands with a gentleman in a suit in the center.
Black and white image of employees assembling pens in our former workshop

Unfortunately, the world was not a very safe place during the early 1900’s for people who were blind, most especially for women. Many of these women were unnecessarily institutionalized because they simply had nowhere else to go.

 

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 regions only Comprehensive Vision Rehabilitation Center to provide training, education and advocacy to people with vision loss. Alphapointe now serves more than 1200 people with vision loss each year.

Continuing its tradition of providing an expanded array of services, Alphapointe looked for new ways to serve the blind community. With the help of the Junior League of Kansas City and the Delta Gamma Alumnae chapter, the Kansas City Nursery School for Blind Children (now known as Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired) was established in 1952.

Black and white image of a few male employees in our former broom workshop