Spring 2016 Beam Letter

(from Spring 2016 Beam)

Dear Friends,

In addition to honoring three outstanding supporters of our community of care: Dr. Joel Kaplan, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and Alderman Edward Burke, The Lighthouse’s Gala on June 3rd will celebrate a very special milestone, the 110th anniversary of this world-class organization!

When one looks through our rich collection of archival material, you can’t help being struck by how innovative and responsive The Lighthouse has always been in creating timely, life-changing programs to assist the people we serve. This is particularly true in the critical area of employment. From the very beginning, securing jobs for individuals who are blind or visually impaired has been at the heart of The Lighthouse’s mission.

In fact, our very first manufacturing operation began in the basement of founding member Winona Hood in 1906. Four years later, we unveiled a factory that made household utensils such as brooms.

By 1920, The Lighthouse had a thriving job placement program, referring candidates who were blind to positions with such leading firms as Edison Electric, Chicago Nut Company, Victor Gaskets, Ankell & Barker Cars, Garrett Buggies and smaller companies making calendars, furniture, boxes and other items. During World War II, The Lighthouse placed 250 people in various war industry plants in Chicago.

It is worth noting that in the 1940s and 50s, The Lighthouse was championing the cause of diversity by having people of all racial backgrounds work together side by side. This was happening at a time when northern cities like Chicago were still highly segregated.

Our commitment to finding jobs for people who are blind got a tremendous boost in the late 1970s when we began making clocks for the U.S. government. Today, we operate one of the few remaining clock factories in the country and our clocks adorn the walls of federal facilities across the nation and around the world!

More recently, we have partnered with the Illinois Tollway, UI Health and other organizations to develop meaningful jobs for hundreds of talented individuals who are blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veterans.

The future of The Lighthouse has never looked brighter and I want to thank all our generous donors, exemplary Board members, dedicated staff, volunteers and other supporters for their immeasurable contributions. We invite you to be a part of our celebration on June 3rd at The Four Seasons. Happy 110th Anniversary, Chicago Lighthouse!

Janet P. Szlyk, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer

Low Vision Research Laboratory

Research & Publications by Dr. Szlyk

Interviews with Dr. Szlyk