Building a better future for the blind
Helping the Blind and Visually Impaired for Over 50 Years
Our mission is to serve the social, recreational, educational, referral, and advocacy needs of the blind and visually impaired population of southeastern Connecticut and assist them in attaining and maintaining an independent lifestyle.
The Center of the Blind was founded in 1972 through the efforts of Marjorie Heath, a blind woman who felt the need for blind and visually impaired persons to come together for social and recreational opportunities. It was incorporated on May 12, 1976.
The Center offers services to the more than 1,000 legally blind residents of Southeastern Connecticut. We have an ongoing volunteer force to help with social and recreational activities, reading, clerical work, and transportation.
We are a 501c3 organization and depend on funding from private contributions, donations, fundraising, and grants.
Board of Directors
Scott Skinner President
Born in New Brunswick, Canada, and became US Citizen in 1999. Attended Rhode Island College, University of RI, Eastern Nazarene College, and Insurance Institute of America earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) magna cum laude and an Associate in Insurance Services (AIS). Diagnosed at MA Eye and Ear with a rare form of Retinitis Pigmentosa in 2008 resulting in legal blindness in 2016. Currently employed by Employment and Training Institute (ETI). Served as a board member for Tides Family Services. Been a member of The Center of the Blind since 2016 and a board member since 2020.
Kevin Harkins Vice President
Blind since birth, he has advocated for the visually impaired since the age of fifteen, when he became the first legally blind person admitted to Wooster School, in Danbury, CT. By nineteen, he was a freelance news reporter for WLAD Radio, produced a radio documentary on blindness in CT, and served on the founding board of directors for the CT Chapter of the NFB. He was recognized by the International Chiefs of Police and FBI Magazine as the first totally blind law enforcement dispatcher. He has been active with the American Council for the Blind and was honored by BESB for developing employment opportunities for sightless telephone operators at the Mohegan Sun Casino. He served on the Commission for Persons with Disabilities for the city of Norwich, CT. He has been a member of the Center of the Blind since 2016 and was President in 2019 and 2020 and is now currently the Vice President of the Board.
Tammy Paradis Secretary
A true believer in advocating for the blind and visually impaired. She attended the SC School for the Blind and Helen Keller School for the Deaf and Blind Adults to prepare for her future living with Ushers Syndrome: a rare genetic disease which causes a slow loss of vision and hearing. Tammy joined the Center of the Blind in 2016 and became a board member in 2017, and has been the Secretary of the Board since Jan. 2018. She currently prepares the monthly newsletter, records the monthly minutes, and handles all correspondence and event planning at the Center.
Marion Ouellette Treasurer
Graduated with a bachelor degree in music education from UCONN and graduated with a masters degree in special education from Southern CT University.
She worked 5 years in the Ledyard School system as a music teacher in the middle school level.
She then worked 18 years in the Plainfield School system as a special educational teacher for elementary & middle school levels.
She and her husband Al, currently reside in Uncasville and have 2 sons and 6 grandchildren. She has been a member of the Center of the Blind for 25 years. She has participated in numerous fundraisers for the Center such as; Blind Man's Bluff, Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinners, and our Pancake Breakfast.
She is a former member of the Montville Lions Club with 23 years of perfect attendance.
Volunteering at the Center since 1985, she has kept the records and financials up to date under two previous Directors who were visually impaired. She became President of the Board in January 2008 and held the position for several terms after serving the other offices. After retiring 21 years from Mohegan Sun Casino in 2019, she became the Executive Director for the Center in January 2020. Her mission was to increase membership, find a new location for the Center, and gain more recognition in the community. Through her efforts in the past 2 years, we are in a new location, have a professional looking website as well as brochures, a well-stocked retail outlet, state of the art adaptive equipment, and our membership has tripled in size!