Valley Center for the Blind

Focusing on enhancing the lives of people with vision loss

aka VCB   |   Fresno, CA   |


At Valley Center for the Blind, we join together in a spirit of dedication to assist blind and visually impaired persons in experiencing more independent and opportunity-filled lives. We believe that every individual, regardless of disability, can accomplish their desired goals when provided the proper instruction and support.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Mrs. Shellena Heber

Main address

3417 West Shaw Avenue

Fresno, CA 93711 USA

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Formerly known as

Friendship Center for the Blind



NTEE code info

Specialized Education Institutions/Schools for Visually or Hearing Impaired, Learning Disabled (B28)

Blind/Visually Impaired Centers, Services (P86)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (W01)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

If you are like the majority of people in America, you likely wake up, open your eyes, go through your morning routine including brushing your hair, picking out an outfit for the day, maybe driving to work, school, or an appointment or watching for the arrival of your bus or train. All the while, using eyesight to help you accomplish the most basic tasks in your life. How would life change if you lost the use of your vision? How could you still get to work? Or do your job? Make dinner? Clean your home? Write a check? Significant vision loss affects nearly every aspect of life- but it does not mean life is over. In California alone, there are an estimated 800,000 people living with vision loss and upwards of 70% of adults with vision loss are unemployed, making the average poverty level of blind people significantly high.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Assistive Technology

The Assistive Technology program provides opportunities for consumers to learn to use the Internet, e-mail, word processing programs, spreadsheets, telecommunication systems, and note-taking devices. Through the recent expansion of this program, including the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment and a wireless network for laptops and note-takers, VCB now offers a comprehensive range of training for vocational and personal use. Evaluation and training are provided on a one-to-one basis, taking into account individual communication styles, and employment and residential goals. Hardware and software adaptations provide access to the computer through the use of refreshable braille displays, screen magnification programs, and screen reading programs.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Allows for the blind and visually impaired to continue living their lives as independently as possible.

These Classes provide:

Adaptive Cooking: Eating, Cooking with Hot & Cold Foods & Nutrition Techniques
Hand Writing
Money and Clothing Identification
Methods of Labeling & Marking
Household & General Organization and Identifying Sounds
Uses of Communication & Social Skills Adjustment
Personal Care & Hygiene
Home Maintenance & Safety
Cleaning & Laundry
Basic Mobility Techniques & Transportation

These classes are one on one basis with the instructor either at the center or in home teaching can be arranged.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Braille is a written language in which characters are represented by a pattern of raised dots read by touch. Clients first learn Grade 1 Braille which is a simplified version useful for labeling and reading basic text. Grade 2 Braille is more advanced and allows the user to more efficiently write notes and read text. Learning braille is incredibly useful in taking steps towards independence for those with vision loss.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

We believe that in order to achieve high-level goals, most individuals are greatly benefited by social connection and supportive activities. Our philosophy seeks to address more than just the provision of technical skills which is why we pace so much importance on our Social Programs. Valley Center for the Blind Offers Counseling and Group Support, Creative Recreation, Special Activity Groups, Adaptive Recreation and so much more. VCB hopes to provide our participants with the opportunity to build a caring community while developing high-level independence skills and structures our social programs to provide for individual needs in group settings.

Supportive Services
Creative Recreation
Adaptive Recreation

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

In this four-step program, VCB helps our clients with their final preparations for work. All clients entering this program must have a clear vocational goal and should apply, similar to how you will apply for your job. We begin with an interview to establish how ready a client is to really dig into the application process. A series of short employment preparation courses are conducted by your Employment Specialist before we move to job development, helping you find, apply and interview for work in your chosen field. Once you find that perfect job, VCB will work collaboratively with you over the first 90 days of your employment, making sure that you have a friend to turn to as issues, concerns, or barriers arise.

Population(s) Served
People with vision impairments

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

At VCB, we aim to help individuals experiencing obstacles to success as a result of vision loss who want to improve their lives surpass expectations by instilling confidence and ensuring abilities. We believe with proper support, training, and community awareness, that we can educate and empower people with vision loss and our community to make blindness a mere inconvenience, rather than a barrier to success.

VCB provides higher level training because we are passionate about progress. Our instructors teach from professional level curriculums and clients prove their skill attainment through demonstration and testing. All clients work with a skilled Case Manager to establish short- and long-term goals to overcome barriers and fill skill gaps that are often discovered as a part of our thorough assessment process. VCB also engages in community awareness and advocacy on a local, state, and national level, ensuring that the needs and challenges of our community are communicated and faced with a spirit of dedication and productivity.

Our agency utilizes experienced, professional instructors, 90% of whom are significantly visually impaired or are totally blind. Our modern flagship facility in Fresno, CA, is equipped with the latest technologies that help “level the playing field” for the blind, especially in the workplace. In recent years, we have retained a Board of Directors who represent professional individuals such as physicians, financial advisors, CPAs, and business consultants combined with representatives from our local blind community. Our organization also receives management coaching through Sandler Management Solutions, to ensure that our business practices and strategic planning are setting the agency up for a successful future. We continue to seek community partners who are willing to invest in our mission to allow our capabilities to be fully realized.

Since our organization was founded as a social club for elderly individuals with vision loss in the 1970s, we have certainly come a long way. We provide services to over 800 individuals a year, training one-on-one and in group settings for thousands of hours a year. On an individual basis, our clients report having true transformations in their lives, from depressed and requiring substantial care, to feeling empowered and independent. As an agency, we have had over a 300% increase in organizational budget in the past three years, allowing us to serve more and more people every year. We are building relationships with local employers, school districts, elected officials and other community stakeholders to ensure that we meet the needs of our blind clients in the areas of employment opportunities, appropriate education, legislative needs, accessibility, and more. We also have big dreams of bringing industry to the Central Valley which will create jobs that are accessible for individuals with vision loss- to give people true opportunities to prepare for themselves and their families. In 10 years, VCB aims to have 85% success rate in overcoming identified barriers hindering our clients from reaching their goals, including providing gainful and meaningful job opportunities to a minimum of 75 blind people who desire employment. We are driven to change lives and will continue to pursue excellence and are actively seeking community partners to join us in this journey.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?


Valley Center for the Blind

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Valley Center for the Blind

Board of directors
as of 09/28/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mrs. Shellena Heber

Jessica L. Roush

Roush Investment Group

Dr. Thien Kim N. Vuong

Smyrna Eye Group/Center for the Visually Impaired

Kathy Schilling


Kenneth Clausell

Dr. Michelle V. Carle

Kaiser Permanente Health Care

Patricia Camrillo

Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Dr. Lauren Fernandez

Sierra Eye Medical Group

Chris Fendrick

Kern High School District

Shellena Heber

Valley Center for the Blind

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 8/10/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data


No data

Sexual orientation

No data


Equity strategies

Last updated: 06/24/2022

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.