Linking community vision: the story behind your local op-shop - The Community Leader and Real Estate New and Views

Fifty-five years ago an organisation was founded to enhance the lives of people with low or no vision, a seemingly simple and straightforward mission propounded by Reverend Elsie Dodd and her husband Gordon. But that beginning sowed the seeds of a movement that would grow exponentially and have a community impact beyond just the people envisaged in its original charter, drawing in and helping children with a range of disabilities, providing specially designed accommodation for people with visual impairments and becoming an established and popular self-funded charity.

The first step, establishing hostel accommodation for blind persons of all ages, commenced in 1970. Having gained Brisbane City Council’s approval for a plot of land in Brisbane the organisation, reconstituted as Aid for the Blind Queensland, threw itself into fundraising. Within a decade enough had been raised to secure a bank loan and the hostel, the Arthur Chawner Centre (named after an outstanding worker in the cause) was opened. Since then more units have been added and another hostel, the (Thelma) McKennariey Centre, opened.

The concept extended. Recognising that children with low or no vision were disadvantaged by the lack of computer keyboard and basic program skills, Aid for the Blind’s Computer Club was established in 2007 and grew to include children with autism, cerebral palsy and intellectual and physical disabilities, reaching interstate to hundreds of children and offering free, in-school mentoring.

Aid to the Blind – which became Link Vision in 2015 – took over the retail businesses of both the Asthma and Endeavour Foundations and assimilated Blind Alliance Australia and its Blind Australian of the Year Awards, held this year at Brisbane’s Pullman Hotel on Saturday 28 October.

Various government grants had helped keep the books balanced but restrictions to fundraising collections meant that Link Vision had to think outside the box for income. Op shops were an obvious answer and op shop income now represents 76% of Link Vision’s total income. One of their several south-east Queensland shops is at Capalaba and staff there are gearing up for a busy summer!


Change of season means change of wardrobe – but instead of adding to the 200,000 tonnes of discarded clothing sent to landfill every year in Australia, think about buying your festive frills from a charity shop like Link Vision.

Naomi Jarvis, whose parents Elsie and Gordon Dodd founded the organisation, has been involved with it since the age of 12 and is a frequent face at the Capalaba shop. 

“Our shops are really popular with all age groups, from teenagers to grandparents,” she says, “and they also provide employment for people with a disability.  

“Donations are always welcome, in our donation bins or over the counter or, if needed, we can collect. We find a homes for a massive amount of stuff – clothes, accessories, books, furniture, housewares – and Link Vision has established a market for donated goods in selected areas of the South Pacific region.  For a self-funded charity we’re doing pretty well!” 

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