Community Center for the Blind began on February 25, 1949 when a group of eleven people met for the first time to establish a center in the area for people who were blind and visually impaired. These individuals belonged to various local organizations; Mrs. Myrtle Stephens Clark brought them together.
In 1945, realizing there was a need for people who were blind and visually impaired to have a social outlet, Mrs. Clark organized an Adult Blind Club. A handicraft teacher visited bimonthly from Sacramento to teach arts and crafts.
That the blind needed a center of their own which would be available daily readily became apparent. Here they would have varied classes, a place where they could socialize, have dances, play cards, listen to the radio, or just visit and teach each other how to rehabilitate themselves.
The greatest benefit of a center would be rehabilitation, not just vocational rehabilitation, but social rehabilitation, helping an individual with little hope feel useful and look to the future with courage.
In 1949, after the February meeting, Mrs. Clark turned to the Stockton Lions Club for assistance. The Lions showed great interest in the project and agreed to pay a reasonable rental if suitable quarters could be found. A building was rented at 17 West Oak Street. On July 12, many local organizations and individuals helped the agency make the move. This location served as home for almost three years.
The agency moved to 321 West Flora Street in 1951 to accommodate the growing number of clients coming for services. This was also the year that the annual Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Party began; both continue to this day.
Our new center very quickly proved too small to host all of the events. As a result, a new project was at hand to find a more permanent location. We found a lot that was perfect for our new home and, thanks to a generous bequest, constructed a facility at 130 West Flora Street. Doors opened on January 5, 1966.
After more than 50 years, CCBVI moved to its current location at 2453 Grand Canal Boulevard, Suite 5, Stockton. The decision to move was bittersweet , but the well–being of staff and guests forced the agency to locate a safer home. The floor plans are similar, which made the transition easy.
Since our incorporation as a private non-profit 501(c)(3) in May of 1949, thousands of people in San Joaquin County who are blind and visually impaired have stepped through the doors to improve the quality of their lives. CCBVI is fortunate to have the support and dedication of the community.