“Community” has always been at the heart of The Chicago Lighthouse. We were founded by a community of women and have dedicated our 114 years of service to Chicago’s underserved communities. At The Lighthouse, everyone—regardless of age, race, or disability—is welcome.
Throughout this unprecedented pandemic, our community has come together in the best possible ways. As “stay-at-home” orders were being issued in March, our IT and management teams worked around-the-clock securing licenses and assistive technology equipment so that many of our employees with disabilities could continue working from home. Birth-to-Three Program Senior Director Marla Garstka personally appealed to state officials for the ability to provide remote therapies. Though physically separated, our community rallied online, donating more than $40,000 on #GivingTuesdayNow, guaranteeing our clients would have our assistance when they needed it most. As individuals, we stepped up for each other. To help some of the youngest members of our community, our in-house Art Therapist created and distributed kits to Preschool and Children’s Development Center students. When one of our employees, who is visually impaired, needed a safe place to live, Human Resources Senior Vice President Jeanette Bonzani helped secure a new apartment for her and her family. As some staff members who are blind remained homebound, their colleagues went to grocery stores and pharmacies for necessities. This is what we mean when we say we are a “Community of Care.”
Meanwhile, we continue to expand our community. Our pivot to remote delivery has opened up possibilities to reach people across the region and even out of state. We are forging new partnerships to help even more people receive our comprehensive low vision care and gain access to cutting-edge assistive technology. And, as you will read, we are in the preliminary stages of creating affordable housing that is fully accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Community can mean many different things: individuals connected by a shared purpose; a resource to serve a group of people; a fellowship of shared values and goals. This year, The Chicago Lighthouse community was all of those things and more
Thank you for being a part of it!
Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer
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