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By Bob Strauss, Staff Writer
Posted: 12/30/2010 09:19:04 PM PST
The Van Nuys School for the Blind, which was in danger of shutting down after Friday because of a funding shortage, will stay open for at least another month.
Although the 38-year-old school, which provides mobility and other crucial classes for seeing-impaired people, had not reached its year-end fundraising goal of $75,000 as of Thursday, it had received enough donations to pay the $2,000 rent on its Sherman Way facility through the end of January.
"I wish it was $75,000 and we could keep all of our programs in there, but we've got to keep going," said Helen Harris, president of the school and head of the nonprofit RP International, which is coordinating the fundraising drive. "We're going to have to cut the mobility classes - probably in half, rather than altogether - next month."
As of Thursday, the school had received $5,000 in checks and telephone donations and about $2,000 online. A $10,000 pledge was made by a previous donor who responded to an earlier Daily News story about the situation.
To stay open for the remainder of the coming year, though, the school has to make up the rest of the $75,000 that it previously received from a city grant that expires Friday.
In one example of the school's services and expenses, each vision-impaired student gets a free, fitted white cane, a $75 value. Mobility instructors, which the school also provides gratis, tend to charge around the same amount per hour.
Harris, who is blind, is also in the market for a less-expensive venue.
"We're looking for a place in the $1,000-a-month price range, or that can be donated," she said. "There's a lot of empty space in the Valley, a whole lot, and someone who has some can get a tax write-off for it."
While she's not looking forward to skimping further on what was already a skin-of-its-teeth operation, Harris remains upbeat.
"We'll have to spend more time doling out the funds that we do have," she said. "But I'm really happy that we got this far. I thought that it would all be over by midnight."
How to help
To donate to the Van Nuys School for the Blind, call 800-344-4877 or go online to www.rpinternational.org or www.firstgiving.com/tbg.
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