Vision Forward selling Hawley Road campus

Positions nonprofit to provide more community-based services

Vision Forward Association’s campus is located at the intersection of Hawley Road and Wisconsin Avenue.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:55 pm

Vision Forward Association, a nonprofit that serves individuals with vision loss and their families, has announced it is selling its campus on Milwaukee’s west side, where the organization has been located for nearly 100 years.

The organization said Wednesday its board of directors has accepted an offer from Milwaukee-based LCM Funds Real Estate, LLC, on the sale its seven-acre campus at 912 N. Hawley Road. The sale is expected to be finalized by November.

Vision Forward Association’s campus is located at the intersection of Hawley Road and Wisconsin Avenue.

By selling its campus, Vision Forward positions itself to provide more community-based services, the organization said. During its strategic planning process in recent years, clients said they prefer to have services offered closer to where they live and work and in a more accessible space.

“This is an exciting time for us,” said Terri Davis, executive director of Vision Forward Association. “Selling our campus will make it possible for Vision Forward to eventually move into a more modern and accessible space, strengthen relationships with our providers, and dedicate more resources to programs and services for individuals with vision loss and their families.”

The organization plans to rent its space from the new owners and remain on the campus for the next three or four years, spokesperson Dena Fellows said. Vision Forward has 44 full-time and part-time employees at its campus. 

“Our strategic plan recognizes we have a wonderful history here, on our campus, of empowering individuals with vision loss. To do this well in the future and to live our mission we have to be more accessible to reach more individuals in the community,” said Brett Bostrack, board president. “We look forward to engaging our staff and our members in this process.”

The campus includes Hawley Ridge Apartments, a 58-unit independent living apartment building at 920 North Hawley Road, which serve residents both with and without vision loss. The organization said LCM Funds Real Estate intends is to continue operating the apartments in the same way as Vision Forward.

Vision Forward’s history traces back to 1919 when Adam Zepp, a businessman blinded at the age of 16, formed an organization called Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired aimed at improving living conditions and employment opportunities for blind people. In 1924, the organization opened a boarding home for individuals who were blind. From there, it grew to offer a job placement program and other employment-related services.

Following the national trend among social service and health care organizations away from institutionalized care, the organization began winding down its boarding home in the early 2000s and opened an adult rehabilitation services center that focuses on building skills that encourage independence. 

In 2010, the Badger Association and the Center for Blind and Visually Impaired Children merged to one agency and adopted the name Vision Forward. The organization’s portfolio of services has expanded to provide in-home services for children, a preschool program on its campus and other youth programming.

The Hawley Road campus also includes the Vision Forward Store, which carries adaptive products.

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