Lighthouse Employees Honored for Service

Employees of The Chicago Lighthouse, who have been with the organization for four years or longer, were honored at a festive celebration on Tuesday, January 15.

Held at the Vertiport Chicago Heliport located near The Lighthouse, the event brought together 251 staff members, representing a broad array of backgrounds and experiences. Each employee received an award for his or her service.  They also were able to enjoy a tasty selection of food, musical entertainment and dancing.

“One of our great strengths as an organization is having so many talented and dedicated employees who go the extra mile in fulfilling our mission to improve the lives of people who are blind, visually impaired, disabled and Veterans,” said Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk in her welcoming remarks.

To help showcase the employees being honored, the program featured individual presentations from members of The Lighthouse’s management team, which saluted those with 4 to 9 years of service; 10 to 19 years; 20 to 29 years; and 30 years or more.  COO Pam Tully spoke on behalf of those employed from 4-9 years; Dr. Kara Crumbliss, vice president of clinical services, spoke for those employed 10-19 years; Ricardo Vilchez, vice president of Information Technology, spoke for those employed 20-29 years; and CFO Mary Lynne Januszewski spoke for those employed 30 years or more. Highlighting each presentation was background music from the time periods covered.

Employee recognition group photo

“Simply put, there’s no better place for me to practice,” said Dr. Crumbliss, who joined The Lighthouse staff in 2004 straight out of her residency as an optometrist with a specialty in low vision. She noted that her position has given her the opportunity to provide people with the care that they need, regardless of their ability to pay.

Of all those honored at the event, Gail Patterson, administrative assistant of the Children’s Development Center, holds the longest tenure of 48 years. When asked what impresses her most about the organization, she smiles, “All the people that I come in contact with inspire me, especially the children and families and anybody who comes along that needs a little help. If I’m able to provide some of that, that makes me happy and encourages me to get up and keep coming to The Lighthouse.”

The appreciation ceremony also coincided with a special anniversary for Immediate Past President and CEO Jim Kesteloot, who first joined the organization fifty years to the day on January 15, 1969, when he was hired as a placement counselor.

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