Guiding Eyes for the Blind

By on Mar 14, 2024 in Giving

Yardi-supported Guiding Eyes for the Blind is a nonprofit founded in 1954 in Yorktown Heights, NY. Guiding Eyes for the Blind provides guide dogs to people with vision loss. This one-of-a-kind nonprofit organization is known worldwide as a center of excellence with a spirit of innovation.

Since 1954, Guiding Eyes has graduated over 10,000 guide dog teams and is one of only two guide dog schools to serve people who are Deafblind. Guiding Eyes provides services, programs, and follow-up support to their clients at no cost and serves all 50 states, including Canada.

Guiding Eyes also collaborates with guide dog organizations worldwide to share expertise and information on genetics, breeding and training. Guiding Eyes aims to graduate 150+ guide dog teams and support 1,000 active guide dog teams yearly.

The journey of a guide dog takes about two-plus years and includes the following:

  • Breeding and care: focus on the human-dog bond for up to eight weeks.
  • Training with a skilled volunteer puppy raiser: eight weeks to 15 months.
  • Formal harness training: hundreds of repetitions in various settings, five to 12 months.
  • Training with blind people: on-site or in the student’s home area, 10-15 days.
  • Follow-up Support: Throughout the partnerships, it averages eight years.

Guiding Eyes is beginning to build a new Canine Wellness and Training Facility over the next three years to provide the best environment for guide dogs in training and enable its organization to grow and place more guide dog teams annually.

“Guiding Eyes relies on the support of individuals, corporations and foundations to facilitate our work. We do not receive government grants. We also have a network of 1,700+ volunteers who make the mission possible every step of the way,” said Rebekah Cross, director of donor relations for Guiding Eyes.

Funding from Yardi helps Guiding Eyes assist in training and placing a guide dog for someone blind in the local NY/CT/NJ area, directly impacting donors.

“At Guiding Eyes for the Blind, we are incredibly grateful for the support received from Yardi over the past two years. Yardi’s support plays an integral role in enabling us to fulfill our mission of providing guide dogs to people with vision loss,” expressed Cross.

Breeding, raising, and training a guide dog is resource intensive, both financially and through the hundreds of people involved in each guide dog, and costs up to $50,000 annually per dog. Yet, the ROI is priceless through the opportunities resulting from the increased independence and confidence partnering with a guide dog brings.

Jaydene and Nita

Every individual receiving a Guiding Eyes guide dog has a unique and diverse experience and vision loss journey. Still, the resounding sentiments from all graduates are the feelings of joy, freedom, safety and confidence provided by their four-legged partners.

NYC native Jaydene lost her sight as a teenager and received services from a local agency that she now works for, providing technology support and training for those with vision loss. Before getting her first guide dog, Licorice, she realized how much more quickly friends with guide dogs walked. Living in the greater New York City area, Guiding Eyes is a household name she applied to and took that leap of faith.

“I have a much greater sense of independence. I like to say that a guide dog is the fine wine of mobility and travel,” shared Jaydene.

Nita is now Jaydene’s second guide dog, a yellow Labrador Retriever, “With Nita, I can get wherever I need to the fastest and safest way possible.”

Read more about Jaydene’s journey at Guiding Eyes and more fun perks about Nita.

Volunteer Opportunities

Guiding Eyes has many volunteer opportunities, from home socialization of six to eight-week-old puppies to puppy raising and sitting to fostering a brood or stud in its breeding program. They also have opportunities on its campuses in Yorktown Heights, NY and Patterson, NY, ranging from administrative to dog care. Learn more and apply to become a volunteer

“Being a person who is blind myself and having experienced the impact of partnering with a guide dog, I can honestly say that your support is life-changing,” expressed Cross. “Furthermore, the companionship of one of these wonderful dogs keeps our graduates smiling through all of life’s adventures. We can’t thank you enough for making this possible!”

Find future non-profit profiles at