(Formerly Association for the Blind - Guide Dogs WA)
The Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA Inc (SMCFWA) have been working with VisAbility for a number of years.
During this time we have funded the training of two Guide Dogs, Tara and Skye (who became a companion dog), and funded over the course of 5 years the On 2 Employment Program.
Tara, our first Guide Dog graduated on the 18th of March, 2015 and was placed with Jackie.
Skye was unable to graduate as a guide dog due to an illness but has been placed as a companion dog with a young girl with Autism.
The training of a Guide Dog generally takes two years and costs approximately $30,000, and involves a lot of hard work and dedication by a number of trainers.
The On 2 Employment Program is an initiative to help the Visually Impaired obtain work in the workplace. Successful participants have found work in a number of areas, (i.e. Handyman, Office Work). The Foundation committed to providing the program with funding to the value of $500,000 over five years.
SMCFWA Step into a New World
George Rogers, Chairman of the Board of the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA (SMCFWA) said a special farewell to the SMCFWA’s sponsored Guide Dog Puppy, Tara, with a unique ‘blindfolded walk’ at the Perron Centre on Wednesday 18 June.
With the assistance of a Guide Dog Instructor Tara guided George, who was under blindfold, on a walk on the streets surrounding the Perron Centre.
“I had no idea of what it would be like. My biggest fear was that I might step on her back leg and hurt her, but after a few steps and realising that she was leading me the way she had been trained, I became more relaxed, and although it was a completely different feeling than I had ever encountered I felt safe knowing that I was in good hands, or should I say paws.”
The ‘blindfolded walk’ marked the final visit George and fellow board members will have with Tara, who has successfully completed Guide Dog training and will move onto working with a person with vision impairment.
“I felt so privileged to have been given the opportunity to sense what a great job the Guide Dogs do and how it must change the lives of the clients that they have been matched to,” said George.
Two-and-a-half year old Tara entered the Guide Dog program in March 2012 and is the first of two Guide Dogs the SMCFWA has sponsored.
SMCFWA is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide both financial and non-financial support to charitable and not-for-profit organisations in Western Australia, while promoting the charitable work of Freemasons in the community.
“We are so proud to be associated with this project and commend the dedicated people involved, from the puppy raisers who start the early training to the professional trainers who provide the final formal training and make sure that the dogs are fully trained to even be able to take someone like me for a walk safely and without any fear,” said George.
It takes two years and costs over $70,000 to train a Guide Dog, and each puppy that enters the program needs a sponsor to contribute $30,000 to support its training.
Guide Dogs WA relies on the support of the community to fund the Guide Dog program.
Guide Dogs WA is owned and operated by VisAbility.
For more information, visit www.guidedogswa.com.au
SMCFWA Helps People Transition On 2 Employment
The Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA provided a helping hand to VisAbility’s 'On 2 Employment' program.
George Rogers, Chairman of the SMCFWA, and fellow board members presented a $100,000 cheque to Dr Clare Allen, Chief Executive Officer of VisAbility, as initial seed funding to support the employment program for people living with vision impairment.
“We’re extremely grateful for the generous support from the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA which has allowed us to implement this vital program to assist people with vision impairment transition into and maintain meaningful employment,” said Tony Hagan, Executive Manager of Philanthropy at VisAbility.
In addition to the initial $100,000 donated as seed funding, the SMCFWA have partnered with VisAbility to ensure the growth and sustainability of the On 2 Employment program by donating a further $100,000 each year for the next four years.
“The ongoing support from the Scottish Masonic Charitable Foundation of WA ensures we can continue to assist people living with vision impairment to achieve their personal goals throughout all stages of their life,” said Tony.
The On 2 Employment program commenced in October 2013 with the objective to develop sustainable employment opportunities for people with vision impairment.
Research undertaken in 2012 by a service provider specialising in people with blindness and vision impairment indicated that 58% of respondents were unemployed ‘not by their choice’, and when seeking a job they were four times more likely to be unemployed compared to the general population.
Since October, over 11 people with vision impairment in the program have successfully been engaged in employment that matches their skills, experience and work preferences.
The On 2 Employment consultants have also developed strong relationships with a range of employers throughout Western Australia, de-bunking myths and resolving queries surrounding the employment of people with vision impairment.
Consultants also work closely with employees with vision impairment and their employers to manage and resolve issues to ensure that employment can be sustained.
SMCFWA is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to provide both financial and non-financial support to charitable and not-for-profit organisations in Western Australia while promoting the charitable work of Freemasons in the community.
VisAbility, formerly the Association for the Blind of WA, is Western Australia's leading provider of support and assistance to people who are blind or vision impaired. For more information, visit www.visability.com.au.