Copyright © 2007-2013 Boston Center for Blind Children.
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|BCBC History: A Tale of Two Centuries…..1901 t0 2007
In 1901 Isabel Greeley, a kindergarten teacher for the Perkins School, saw the value of early training for
blind children. In order to begin work with visually handicapped children in the pre-school and earlier years,
she established the Boston Nursery for Blind Babies. By 1909, the need for services had increased to such an
extent that interested individuals and families purchased property on the Jamaica Way for a new facility to
house blind children. In 1910 the Nursery opened with a residence capability of 25.
Within a couple of decades medical discoveries had greatly reduced the incidence of blindness in newborns.
The Nursery was able to admit children from neighboring hospitals, children who had other than visual
handicaps but who needed long-term convalescence. It was the Nursery’s first step toward broader services,
establishing both their flexibility and their readiness to respond to changing needs in the community.
Meanwhile numerous studies in the medical and educational fields were affirming the value of earliest
possible education/treatment for children with any kind of disability – visual or otherwise. In 1934 the staff
established a day nursery school program to help children begin work on specific development tasks. By 1945
teachers and social workers at the Nursery had begun to visit the homes of multi-handicapped children to
help parents work with their infants.
In the 1950s the Nursery admitted several children who were victims of a new eye condition, retrolental
fibroplasias, which caused blindness along with other severe handicaps in an alarming number of premature
babies. Several of these children were treated by BNBB both in their homes as infants, and later in the
Around the same time the Nursery developed a diagnostic service that would not only help to identify specific
visual impairments, but a number of medical and psychiatric problems as well. The Nursery changed its
name to Boston Center For Blind Children in 1964 and in 1966 became a member of the Child Welfare
League of America. The Center was also licensed as a Group Care Facility by the Massachusetts Office For
Children, approved as a Private 766 School, and licensed by the Massachusetts Department Of Education.
During the next two decades BCBC continued to treat children with a range of physical, psychological,
emotional, and behavioral problems, but particularly those with visual impairments. In October of 1989 the
Center amended its constitution in order to provide care and treatment for blind and visually handicapped
children and/or children with multiple handicaps. The Center, more commonly known as the Arborway
School, was widely recognized as a unique and highly specialized residential, diagnostic, and treatment
facility providing programs and services for special needs children with the most severe handicaps.
Dwindling financial support, a steadily declining enrollment, and a shift in contracting policies which
favored that students remain in their own public schools or be placed in facilities equipped with a more
sophisticated array of services contributed to BCBC closing its doors in September of 1995.
In order to embark on its new mission which no longer included operating a school, BCBC petitioned the
Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in October of 1997 to allow the Center “To engage in
charitable activities as defined in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, including awarding grants
and providing space and support to other charitable organizations that provide care and treatment to blind,
visually impaired, or otherwise disabled children as well as other children and families in need, and engaging
in programs to provide care and treatment to blind, visually impaired, or otherwise disabled children as well
as other children and families in need.”.
2007 And Beyond – The Vision Lives On
As the Center looks forward and plans for the future, its longstanding mission of assisting the less fortunate
will continue to hold fast. Whenever a chapter in its history closes and a new one begins, the Boston Center
For Blind Children has always been able to link both with a recurring theme: a spirit of giving. The vision of
Isabel Greeley will continue to guide BCBC in the fulfillment of its mission.
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
The Boston Center For Blind Children has a longstanding history dating back to 1901 of engaging in
charitable activities and programs which in the past provided care and financial assistance to visually
impaired children as well as to otherwise disabled children and families. Over the years, the mission of the
Center has evolved into an organization that now focuses on allocating grants to similar charitable
Since 1997, BCBC functions as a Private Foundation as defined by the Internal Revenue Code. The mission
of the Center is to award financial assistance through grants to charitable organizations that provide care,
treatment, and services to blind, visually impaired, or otherwise disabled children as well as other children
and families in need. Organizations receiving BCBC grants must qualify under Section 501(c)(3) of the
Internal Revenue Code.
|Boston Center for Blind Children Boston, MA 617-296-4232