Eyes Like Mine Inc. is a non profit 501-C3 organization established in March of 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. It was founded by Krystle Allen, a Newark native, to empower, enlighten, and innovate communities in New Jersey about vision loss and the available resources for people with vision loss. At it’s inception, Elm Inc. was founded with the help of Naquela Wright and Ihsaan R. Muhammad Esq., along with the founder Krystle Allen to introduce a unique pattern of advocacy for individuals who are vision impaired or blind.
To share awareness about the abilities and potentials of individuals with vision loss through advocacy and community outreach, comprehensive empowerment workshops, and awareness events.
To inspire advocacy by breaking down the societal barriers placed against individuals who are previously or currently experiencing vision loss. Our ultimate goal is to create a more accessible society for individuals who are vision impaired and blind so that they can live, learn, and work in equal opportunities.
Meet the Board
On one of the rainiest days in the year of 1984, Krystle Ashley Frances Allen was born on May 29. She came into the world with a bang at a tiny start weighing 2lbs and 14 ounces; however, her beginning would not determine her present. Being the eldest of six siblings, Krystle held many responsibilities as a shoulder to lean on, an ear to listen to, a mouth to bark at and most importantly a positive role model.
Krystle was raised in Newark, New Jersey by Doryann Allen and Richard Whitten Jr. She was schooled kindergarten through eighth grade at Saint Columba Catholic School. Krystle loved school and maintained most of her interest in writing short stories and spelling bees during that part of her education. Although catholic school was her foundation, she always had curiosities about mainstream public school life and remained optimistic that once she completed eight grade, she would experience public high school. However, she was accepted to Saint Vincent’s Academy, an all girls catholic high school. Life at Saint Vincent's Academy was short lived when she moved to Passaic during her sophmore year of school and attended Passaic High School.
In comparison to the catholic school life, Krystle found public school liberating. Her excitement outside of uniforms and a co-ed population led her to a world of no return. Successfully completing her sophmore year, she did not predict what was ahead of her for the coming school year. Looking forward to a year of which she would obtain her driver’s permit and a junior prom, she became challenged with a test of endurance.
In the year 2000, Krystle became legally blind due to a malpractice, in which, she developed a condition called pseudo tumor cerebri. No one ever wakes up with becoming visually impaired on their agenda but then again, there are people going through worse and do not wake up and say, 'I can get through it today.' Krystle sure did not let it stop her. Within a year of treatment, surgical procedures and the will not to succumb to her obstacle, Krystle was back in school. University High School in Newark, became her new stomping ground. She learned how to soar through new life as a visually impaired student. There were difficult times, but she did not yield and soon received her diploma graduating in the class of 2003.
During that same year, she worked at her first job post her disability in Old Navy clothing store. 'What if I cannot' stood far away from Krystle’s frame of mind, especially, when she pursued higher education at Essex County College (ECC). There she majored in Social Science and was also Vice President of the Social Work Student Association, delegating and participating in community initiatives. Still looking forward in 2005, Krystle was selected along with 11 other U.S. citizens as a delegate Ambassador Exchange Student on a trip to Japan with a non profit organization known as Mobility International USA. There she indulged in Japanese customs, advocacy for disabled residents in Tokyo, Japan and workshops. This opportunity opened the doors for her immensely, when soon after she received the State Assembly Resolution for Outstanding Community Service and the Governor’s Proclamation for Outstanding Achievement.
Shortly after, she became an Americorp National Community Corporation member with La Casa de Don Pedro, Inc. There Krystle shadowed social workers in areas involving domestic violence, youth enrichment programs and community relations. She even developed an expo for Newark youths to obtain summer employment due to a hiring deficit during the year of 2007.
Krystle's passion for her community and its rejuvenation keeps her striving for bigger and better attributes of life. Nothing can hold down a person full of strength and perseverance. Currently, she is a disability advocate in Big And Beautiful Says It All (BABS) Social Club, a Substitute Teacher for the Montclair School District and a Counselor at the YMCA of Montclair. Now serving as the CEO and Founder of Eyes Like Mine, Inc., supporting people who suffer from all levels of vision loss and a prime example of making the best out of what could have been the worst. She is a woman of courage, compassion, and sincerity. Life still has so much in store for her with more opportunities. Throughout it all she stands tall and strong expecting nothing less than the best. Vice President
Naquela Charmaine Wright was born on December 25, 1991. Ms. Wright is a native of Newark, NJ, whom as a child she loved to sing, write songs, dance, and even dabble in boxing. While she was in school she was active in athletics and an avid supporter of her school. She graduated from Westside high school. She dedicated a year of volunteering as a counselor in her the local Girl Scout Troop. Her plans came to an abrupt halt, when she lost her sight in 2010. She was diagnosed with pseudo tumor cerebri. Her initial reaction to this abrupt change left her shocked, sad and angry. Despite, the doctor’s diagnosis, Mrs. Wright made many positive plans for her to move forward wither new life.
One of her first steps to independence was when she participated in the Joseph Kohn Training Center (JKTC), for people who are vision impaired and blind, there she learned how to cook, clean, utilize technology adapting in her adjustment to vision loss as a person new to blindness. Attending the facility coupled with being around people enduring similar vision loss situations gave her support to reach for her dreams even more. Subsequently, one month after training at JKTC, Naquela found that she was expecting her 1st child.
Her initial reservations left her wondering if she could be a good parent despite her blindness. On December 28, 2011 she gave birth to Aaron. Naquela, is living proof that when challenges arise facing them allows one to conquer them. Her optimistic outlook on life led her to enroll at the Institute of Therapeutic Massage there, she obtained her certification as a Therapeutic masseuse.
Ms. Wright also enrolled in Essex County College on a journey to experience life as a single mom in college. In this institution she majors in psychology. Juggling college and motherhood are proving to be a challenge, however, Naquela still makes time to pursue her career as a songstress. She most recently competed in auditions for the voice, American idol, X factor, Newark Idol Lincoln Park festival 2014 as wells as a first place winning performance in the All-Star show.
Currently, she is the Vice President Eyes Like Mine, Inc. Naquela is continuing to soar through life with optimism for the future filled success, determination and smiles. Truly exemplifying the credo of Eyes Like Mine, “vision loss does not break us it builds us.”
Brandon Scott is a member of the Eyes Like Mine marketing community. Although he is only 30 years old, he's been overcoming obstacles for 28 years. At the tender age of 2, Brandon was faced with a battle with Retinoblastoma. The disease rendered him totally blind but not without opportunities to achieve success and happiness. Brandon's strong support system, ambition and determination help him to accomplish many of his goals. He used assistive technology.
Amongst his proudest achievements is 2 championships he won while wrestling for Red Bank Regional High School. Of equal importance to Brandon is service in the community. He is a mentor, a tutor and a volunteer wrestling coach. He currently is an intern at The Lunch Break which is a soup kitchen, food pantry and clothing closet. Brandon currently attends Georgian Court University where he hopes to graduate in May with his Bachelors in Social Work.
Ihsaan R. Muhammad serves Eyes Like Mine, Inc. as its Marketing Director. In his role as Marketing Director, he is responsible for overseeing all promotional activities for the organization and devising a comprehensive marketing plan to ensure that The Eyes Like Mine message is reaching our target audiences.
Ihsaan is originally from Newark, NJ and was educated at Rutgers University in New Brunswick (Class of 2010) and Rutgers Law School in Newark (Class of 2013).