Photo: Kate Williams stands on the sweeping ramp inside the Ed Roberts Campus where LightHouse has its Berkeley office.
Everyone in the blindness community knows the ominous statistics: At least 60 – possibly even as many as 70 percent – of legally blind people remain unemployed. That’s why back in 2011 we made a commitment to blind jobseekers to establish a program that gave them the practical skills they needed to get the jobs they wanted.
Today, we’re proud to announce that the alumni of our program reached over $2.5M in salaries – $2,513,630 to be exact – and the number is growing every week. That is $2.5M in value added to our economy; $2.5M of worker time for people who didn’t know if they had what it took to compete in the job market; $2.5M that doesn’t even factor in the amount those individuals would have otherwise collected from social security and state financial aid.
Kate Williams, our Employment Immersion Program Manager, Purpose Prize Winner, and job coach nationally recognized by the Wall Street Journal, is the driving force behind these achievements. In the last six months alone, Kate and her team have helped sixteen blind and low vision jobseekers find new employment. That is sixteen people who six months ago, had to rely solely on assistance from others.
We can’t take all the credit, though. The LightHouse students who have been through our program have received rigorous and enthusiastic support from family, friends, private donors, foundations, grants and the CA State Department of Rehabilitation (DOR) which sends many students through our classes. At the end of the day, though, it’s about letting our students stand on their own two feet and enjoy a little bit of financial security. As one student told Kate last week: “It was just nice to be able to actually buy someone else dinner, for once.”
Here’s to more dinners together, and more success stories in 2016.
The Employment Immersion Program is for people who are blind or have low vision, from any background, seeking any job.
The next Employment Immersion session will begin on January 10, 2017:
Where: The LightHouse Building, 1155 Market St., 10th Floor, 94103
When: January 10 through February 9, 2017
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
To learn more, contact Employment Immersion Coordinator Wanda Pearson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 415-694-7359.
Employment Immersion is hiring a new job development professional. If you have the skills to help blind and low vision jobseekers thrive, apply here.