Honoring the Visionary Founders of the Blind Children’s Center During Women’s History Month

As the world celebrates Women’s History Month, it is important to reflect on the impact of the visionary women who paved the way for positive change in the lives of young children who are blind or visually impaired. The story of the Blind Children’s Center is rooted in a pivotal moment from the 1936 Delta Gamma Fraternity Convention. Ruth Billow, a Delta Gamma from the University of Akron who was blind, addressed the Convention and advocated for “Aid to the Blind” to become the fraternity’s official philanthropy. 

United under philanthropy, a group of LA County Delta Gamma alumnae chapters came together to identify the specific needs of their community, in which they discovered a critical gap. Despite the presence of several schools for the blind, there were no resources available for preschool children or their parents. Wanting to fill this gap, these dedicated women began their mission to establish a place that would cater to this population, resulting in over 80 years of change-making history. 

Unaware of the profound impact the facility would have on their community, a team of volunteers, led by UCLA’s retiring Head of Medicine, Dr. Lillian Ray Titcomb, founded the Nursery School for Visually Handicapped Children in a private home on October 3, 1938, the first of five schools a part of Delta Gamma’s Service for Sight initiative. By 1940 it became clear that the original school required expansion into a permanent building tailored to accommodate the needs of the children.

At the 1946 Delta Gamma National Convention, these women launched a fundraising campaign and sought opportunities beyond the Delta Gamma community to generate publicity and donations. Articles in Photoplay, Screen Guild, McCalls, Look and the Saturday Evening Post positioned them to become nationally recognized as a model program, where guests and educational and medical professionals came to learn about these transformative efforts. 

With the continued attention, a Building Committee was later formed to find a location and an architect for a permanent facility. The founder and fellow committee members engaged Paul R. Williams, one of the finest architects of his generation, to design the new building. This collaboration to help blind children emerged during a time of discrimination, yet stood as a beacon of hope and inclusivity in the face of adversity.

The Delta Gamma women were not aware that their efforts in creating equal opportunities would make history and lay the groundwork for an inclusive environment where children, regardless of vision, could learn and grow for almost a century. The founders have inspired generations and continue to leave behind a legacy of compassion and service.

For more information about the Blind Children’s Center history, visit: https://www.blindchildrenscenter.org/who-weare/.