Photography by Jamison Mosley
At eight years old, Roy Kumpe was declared legally blind. Despite obstacles, Roy earned a good education and a visionary role in the world. In 1947, Roy created Enterprises for the Blind to provide critical resources that remove barriers for the visually impaired and help fellow Arkansans live independently. His son Peter, born that year, remembers, “I grew up with World Services for the Blind,” and it has remained a constant through the years. As the organization celebrates a legacy of service, it also recognizes the unwavering commitment of the Kumpe family.
Peter Kumpe will be honored at the 75th Anniversary Celebration Gala later this month. World Services for the Blind President & CEO Sharon Giovinazzo reflects on the family’s steadfast support of the organization. “Peter’s father not only dreamed a dream, he built that dream that has helped more than 17,000 people. Peter has been with us through the good times and the bad.” A native Arkansan, Peter appreciates the reprieve of the Natural State. He is a fly fishing enthusiast and spends time gardening at his home in the Hillcrest Historic District. “I enjoy community life and hope to have an impact. We all thrive and contribute most effectively when we devote ourselves to the service of others.”
The gala will highlight the accomplishments of World Services for Blind. An ardent advocate for other blind individuals, Roy secured necessary funding and integrated government agencies and federal buildings with visually impaired employees. But there were still obstacles including basic life skills, mobility and transportation as well as personal hygiene and social techniques. In 1989, Arkansas Enterprises for the Blind evolved into World Services for the Blind. Clients gain life skills necessary to sustain independence as well as accredited vocational training to secure a career. All of this is made available at the World Services for the Blind campus with a one objective: that clients will pursue a dream and move from the campus. This extraordinary + unique program attracts residents from 50 states and 60 countries – empowering more than 17,000 individuals.
The organization’s most ambitious plan expands the dream of Roy Kumpe with construction of the new group home. Proceeds from the gala support this initiative. Remodeling and revitalization of the existing, original property will include a therapeutic group home with 24 permanent apartments and one respite care transitional apartment. Congruent with 75 years of service, the World Services for the Blind vision is clear. “It was a unique institution when it was founded and it continues to be a leader in vocational education for the blind,” Peter reflects.
Sharon, who lost vision at the age of 31, gained access to resources and realized that a lack of sight doesn’t have to mean a lack of impact. “Blindness can strike you or a family member at any time. If you could not provide for your family or even know how you are going to get to the end of the day, where would you turn?” Sharon considers. “Arkansas is fortunate to have a center such as World Services for the Blind to help people make their next chapter their best chapter when dealing with vision loss.”