( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Lighthouse Works Was Presented with the Employment Achievement Award at the Annual National Industries For The Blind Symposium
ENSPIRE Contributor: Alexandra Rivera
Lighthouse Works is an Orlando-based organization that provides competitive job opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Recently, the organization accepted its fourth Employment Achievement Award in as many months. This award concludes a milestone year for Lighthouse. Since the beginning of 2022, Lighthouse has hired 245 people and has become a workforce of over 500 across Florida and 11 other states.
“Bringing home another plaque from NIB is truly an honor,” said Kyle Johnson, President, and CEO at Lighthouse Works. “It’s a reminder of the hard work and dedication that our team members display every day while also demonstrating that a person’s unique disabilities do not hinder their ability to perform good work.”
They also nominated two Lighthouse Works employees for individual awards, and they were able to attend the conference held in Northern Virginia, along with Lighthouse’s executive leadership team. Lighthouse Works’ solutions allow its business partners to scale resources, manage costs, and meet deadlines. This happens while also making a positive impact by supporting the full independence of those living with vision loss. Lighthouse Work over the years has become a reliable and trusted partner in supplying consistent and world-class results.
ENSPIRE chatted with Kaleb Stunkard, Lighthouse Works Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer at Lighthouse Central Florida.
How did the idea for Lighthouse Works come about?
Our mission is Living, Learning, and Earning with vision loss and we wanted to have a greater impact on the earning component while simultaneously generating net re-deployable revenue to help fund our vision rehabilitation services. The idea to start Lighthouse Works originated from a strategic planning session about how to continue moving forward in our mission.
Working with a disability can be hard and challenging at times. What are some ways to help empower those with vision loss to become more independent?
At Lighthouse Works, we strive to empower lives beyond the restrictions of vision loss and blindness. We accomplish this with the process, technology, and training. A critical element of independence is adopting the disposition of “I can” and taking that first step, no matter how small. We can help!
What is one piece of advice you can give to people with vision loss and interested in joining the workforce?
A person who is blind or visually impaired is a person first and foremost. Secondly, they’re people with tremendous value who can contribute greatly to our economy. We encourage all employers to explore integrating those with unique abilities into their workforce. For the job seeker, we recommend exploring the various job boards (NIB Careers, ACB Job Connection, the NSITE job board, etc.) tailored to individuals who are blind or visually impaired. Lastly, Lighthouse Works opportunities can be found on our careers page.
Has the unemployment rate for visually impaired and blind Americans decreased in areas where your business is located?
We recently accomplished our goal of becoming the largest employer of the visually impaired and blind in the Southeast, but unfortunately, across the nation, 70% of individuals who are visually impaired, or blind, are unemployed or out of the labor market altogether. This means we have more work to do! Our next milestone is to become the largest preferred employer of the visually impaired or blind in the nation – ultimately putting a dent in that 70% statistic.
How are you planning to grow as a business in the new year?
Businesses are navigating an increasingly tight labor market and we believe this will continue to yield a plethora of opportunities well into 2023 and beyond. The key to growth is demonstrating how we provide value, performance, and quality to customers because we employ a unique and highly talented workforce. We expect significant continued growth across multiple business units including our Contact Center, Supply Chain, and Digital Accessibility Solutions.
Lighthouse Works has helped many making it more easily accessible for people with vision loss to gain independence and work on their own. Their hard work does not go unnoticed with recently being awarded by the National Industries for the Blind.