Read Angela and her daughter Laura's Anchor Center Story
Article from The Anchora of Delta Gamma, Fall 2018 Issue:
When Angela Howard Fischer, Alpha Epsilon – Washington University, volunteered at Anchor Center for Blind Children in Denver as a young alumna after moving back to the area, she never expected she’d be enrolling her daughter in preschool there three years later.
Angela’s daughter, Laura, now 4-and-a-half years old, experienced seizures that left her visually impaired when she was just an infant. Angela knew she could count on Anchor Center. Laura has what is increasingly being called the leading cause of vision impairment among children in the U.S., cortical visual impairment (CVI). There is nothing wrong with the structure of Laura’s eyes. Rather, CVI is a neuropathic disorder, meaning that her brain can’t process what she is seeing as a result of the damage caused by the seizures.
“It’s something difficult even for ophthalmologists to diagnose, so when we noticed she was no longer tracking us with her eyes, we turned to Anchor Center,” said Angela.
Anchor Center has been in existence since 1982, helping families just like the Fischers. It was founded by a librarian and Delta Gamma alumnae. What began in a humble church basement serving five children is now a nationally-recognized, exclusively-designed school for 200 children and their families.
In the planning stages for the school, Delta Gamma alumnae met with consultants who said they would never be able to raise money for the building.
“I don’t think you ever tell a woman of Delta Gamma that you can’t do something,” said Heather Cameron, Anchor Center’s executive director.
They successfully raised over $10 million to construct the building and created a small endowment where they use the earnings to keep the building in great shape. “We are debt-free because of the Delta Gamma women,” Heather said.
Not only does Anchor Center provide children with multi-disciplinary intervention, but they also excel at supporting families in their journey. They provide social services, financial support, emotional and mental health support, and engagement opportunities with other families. “Those become lifelong friendships for these parents. Anchor Center is our anchor. It’s the thing that brings us together and the place that’s always there for us,” said Heather.
The Center is embarking on a major research initiative to screen and diagnose CVI. Preliminary research indicates that if you screen and identify CVI early and provide services in the baby’s earliest years, you may be able to get a child to near normal vision. “We’ve hired a research director who starts in January and are partnering with Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children to screen babies. We’re very excited for our new initiatives,” said Heather.
They will be testing theories about brain-based visual stimulation intervention, which can be everything from simple dark rooms without much light, with the introduction of light for the child, to very visual clutter. Initiatives like this are made possible by grants like those from the Delta Gamma Foundation. Financial support from our members as well as service from local sisters help the Center thrive. And that means legacies like Laura can receive the best quality of care.
For many years, the Delta Gamma Foundation has proudly recognized Anchor Center for Blind Children as one of our four official Delta Gamma schools for children with vision loss. Our other schools are located in Los Angeles, St. Louis and Kansas City. They all make an amazing difference in the visually impaired community. It was with great joy that at this summer’s 2018 Convention in Phoenix, the Delta Gamma Foundation Board of Trustees welcomed the Foundation for Blind Children (FBC) in Phoenix as our FIFTH official Delta Gamma School. The rich history of Delta Gamma involvement and the lifetime support and service of local alumnae and collegians easily identify FBC as a valued partner of our organization.