The Lighthouse Shines in Summerville
On Thursday October 20th The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. celebrated the grand opening of our newest manufacturing facility in Summerville, South Carolina. The event included a short program of speakers, a buffet BBQ lunch, a chance to meet employees, and tours of the facility.
Summerville currently has eight employees, six of whom are blind. Shawn Dobbs is one of those six and is the Lighthouse’s Public Relations and Development Director. He moved to South Carolina from Spokane, WA, where he had worked for over four years. Shawn worked hard on the event and was willing to share his experiences.
The day of the event was sunny with temperatures in the 80s, music was playing, and the crowd was enthusiastic and in a celebratory mood. Over 70 people attended, including Summerville’s Mayor Wiley Johnson, representatives from TriCounty Link bus service, members of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind, members of The Charleston Association for the Blind and Visually impaired, employees of Boing, Lighthouse staff, and members of the general public.
During the program Shawn talked briefly about the Lighthouse, introduced the other speakers, and thanked everyone for coming. One of the speakers was Kirk Adams, former President and CEO of the Lighthouse and current President of the American Foundation for the Blind, who spoke about the work it took to open the new facility and the opportunities the Lighthouse provides. Another speaker, Dorchester County Council Chair David Chinnis, presented The Lighthouse with a county flag, which is now hanging at the facility. Lighthouse Production employee Avery Brooks spoke about his personal experiences and the importance of jobs for people who are blind.
After the program people visited, walked around the facility, and took guided tours. Shawn explained that the tours are a good way for people to see the work the Lighthouse is doing with aerospace assembly and on the hydration packs for the military. There were also displays of other products we manufacture including the entrenchment tool, wallboards, and easels. Shawn said the displays helped people to see what the Lighthouse manufactures throughout the organization, not just in Summerville.
Many people who attended the grand opening stopped to talk to the employees. Shawn’s favorite part of the event was walking around and “seeing people being interested and employees sharing what they do.” He “enjoyed knowing that they were making a difference for people who are blind.” The grand opening signifies new opportunities for jobs, independence, and empowerment for people who are blind in South Carolina. The Lighthouse is looking to employing up to 20 people who are blind within the next year and up to 32 people who are blind within two years.
Shawn and the Summerville team would like to thank everyone who volunteered to help with event, and everyone who traveled to be there to celebrate with us!