BAKERSFIELD - It was a near disaster for Bakersfield's blind. The local center for the visually impaired was just days away from closing its doors. But, visions of the center's future got brighter.
Most funds for the Center for the Blind come from the state. But as of late, the state payments are behind. This left the center broke, until it opened the county's eyes to the issue.
One day a week, Prince Furlow gets one-on-one attention at Bakersfield's Center for the Blind. He's learning to read, not with his eyes, but with his hands.
"I am completely blind in my left eye and I have partial vision in my right," said Furlow.
Furlow said Glaucoma recently took his sight.
"You're so used to having that sight, so now you have to change the way you live and everything," said Furlow.
Furlow is one of 25 visually impaired students that receive instruction at the center, not just for Braille, but for independent living skills like cooking and using the computer. But, days ago this facility was on the verge of closing its doors.
"Basically the center ran out of funds," said Justin Cave, Executive Director.
That's because the center receives a majority of its funds from the state, but the state was months behind on its payments.
"We were days away from closing," said Cave.
The only thing keeping the center afloat was private donations from doctors like Joe Chang and his brother.
"We couldn't just let it disappear, so we were in a position to step up and that's just what we did," said Dr. Chang, Empire Eye and Laser Center.
But after five months, those doctors reached a breaking point. Then, the center got a sight for sore eyes, money. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved nearly $50,000 in funds for the center.
"The county has really stepped up and helped us out," said Cave.
"They would have been lost," said Dane Geer, computer instructor at the center. "It would have just been like somebody shut off the lights and now they're in the dark."
But, the lights are still on at the center, so those with little sight can see their potential.
"When I found this, this was a big help because now I can live independent on my own," said Furlow.
The county is also working to make sure the state pays its late payments.