Established in 1933, the San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind & Vision Impaired began with the vision of one individual, Dr. Henry Wyneken, who wanted to organize a program to serve the blind in our community. With the help of others, Wyneken envisioned a program that would train, educate and employ individuals who are blind, and the public as well.
In the beginning, the San Antonio Lighthouse offered part-time work for five people at a North Presa Street sewing plant where pillow cases were produced. Since those humble beginnings, it has grown to become one of the largest non-profit organizations in San Antonio, serving the community and the nation by manufacturing products during times of war and peace. For example, during World War II, the broom factory on San Fernando Street, the mop factory on Olive Street and a new sewing plant at Lexington and St. Mary’s Street were producing vast numbers of laundry bags, mops and brooms.
In 1978, the Rehabilitation Center opened for business offering job counseling, technology training, Braille instruction and vocational evaluations. The San Antonio Lighthouse also established a Senior Center across from the main building on Roosevelt offering seniors classes in Braille, diabetes education, medication management and cooking to provide them with skills to maintain their independence and socialize at the same time. In 2014, the Lighthouse expanded the Seniors Program to include a Sensory Studio, a simulated apartment that includes blind-accessible features and adaptive aids designed to accommodate an individual who is blind or vision impaired. Training areas model a kitchen, bedroom, living/dining area, laundry room and office. This simulated apartment is used as a demonstration area for public tours, and as a group training area for those who wish to receive independent living skills training in an environment similar to their homes. Our Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center staff also makes home visits to area seniors to provide Independent Living Skills and low vision adaptive aids that will assist them with daily living.
In 1997, the San Antonio Lighthouse established partnerships with the Army and Air Force by opening retail operations. The Lighthouse currently has 14 stores on 11 military installations across New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. The military now depends on the Lighthouse to ensure that deployed soldiers are equipped with proper uniforms and gear.
The San Antonio Lighthouse history is sprinkled with the generosity of community leaders who either donated land or gave their financial and business support to its success. From Dr. Frederic Oppenheimer, who donated the North Presa Street location to G.S. McCreless and the Jewish community, who helped secure the current 2305 Roosevelt site.
The San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind & Vision Impaired – The mission – Empowering the lives of the blind and visually-impaired. We accomplish this through employment in our manufacturing plant and military stores and our programs/services. These opportunities allow people to live productive lives with dignity…turning dis-ABILITY into ABILITY.
Functions as a “One-Stop Shop” for the blind and vision impaired in San Antonio
The San Antonio Lighthouse…
- Has been operating and supporting the blind in San Antonio since 1933Provided over 10,000 services in 2015 to people who are blind and vision impaired.Is one of the largest manufacturing operations in the cityMaking and selling the only “U.S. made” pens, pencils and highlighters in San AntonioSupporting our troops through contracts with the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force (uniforms, helmet chin straps, and oil analysis kits, writing utensils, etc.)Employs 475 people – half of whom are blind (competitive pay, medical and retirement)Is one of only two agencies for the disabled in the world to be awarded quality certifications of both ISO 9001 and AS 9100 (aerospace)Operates 14 mission-support stores on 11 military installations across Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma (including Ft. Sam Houston, Lackland and Randolph Air Force Bases).Maintains an E-Commerce website with over 50,000 office supplies and furniture products, many of which are produced by people who are blind – http://www.salighthouse.orgOperates one of the only Senior Centers in Texas for the blind/vision impaired over the age of 50Operates the only Low Vision stores in South TexasOperates a Blind Children’s Education Program serving birth through18 and support group for parentsOperates a Low Vision Clinic in conjunction with the University of Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry with 7 state-of-the-art exam rooms
Some of the critical services provided are:
|-Technology Training -Vocational Assessment -Job Placement||-Independent Living Skills -School to Work Transition Program (ages 16-21) -Employment|
RECENT AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
The Non-Profit Times
50 Top Non-Profits in Nation to Work for – 2010, 2011, 2012 & 2013
University of Texas San Antonio/Ecumenical Center
Business & Ethics Award – 2012
San Antonio Express News & San Antonio Business Journal
“Best Place to Work in San Antonio” – 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 & 2015