Tag Archive

LightHouse Sirkin Center

A Day of Learning as LightHouse San Francisco Staff Visit Sirkin Center

A Day of Learning as LightHouse San Francisco Staff Visit Sirkin Center

LightHouse Sirkin Center employee, Chris Peterson, stands on the manufacturing floor holding a bottled cleaning product while another employee wearing a LightHouse sweatshirt packages bottled products fresh off the manufacturing line for shipment.

By Christina Daniels and Caitlin O’Malior
Your LightHouse Communications team is here to tell you the stories of LightHouse, from student and staff interviews, to stories about LightHouse programs and events, to chronicling the work of different LightHouse departments and satellite offices.

We wanted to learn more about LightHouse Sirkin Center, our light manufacturing plant in Alameda, so that we would be able to better understand the work done there. Just like the programs at our San Francisco, East Bay, North Coast and Enchanted Hills Camp locations, LightHouse Sirkin Center serves the mission of LightHouse: to promote the independence, equality and self-reliance of people who are blind or have low vision.
So, this last Wednesday, we took the Harbor Bay Ferry route from San Francisco to Alameda to visit LightHouse Sirkin Center for a day of listening, learning, and conversation.

We talked to Chris Peterson, Lead/Machine Operator at LightHouse Sirkin Center, who gave us some cool facts about Skillcraft and PRIDEClean, the two cleaning product lines manufactured at Sirkin Center.

A bottle of Skillcraft All-Purpose Cleaner sits on the manufacturing line, employees can be seen working in the background.

 For Skillcraft, Sirkin Center manufactures a glass cleaner and an all-purpose cleaner. The bottle sizes are 16 oz and 22 oz. Here are some fun facts about the filling and packing process for Skillcraft products:

  • Bottles are loaded into the filling machine and filled with cleaner.
  • Next, filled bottles go on a conveyer which puts sprayers on bottles.
  • Labels are placed on the bottles.
  • A machine puts codes on bottles.
  • Bottles are put into a box with 12 bottles to a box then a spacer is placed.
  • The box is placed on a pallet.
  • For 16 oz bottles, there are 20 boxes per layer and four layers to a pallet, which means 960 bottles per pallet.
  • For 22 oz bottles, there are 16 boxes per layer, and four layers to a pallet, which means 768 bottles per pallet.
  • The entire process to fill a bottle and get it on a pallet takes 1.5 hours.
  • 2388 bottles are filled per day.

While Skillcraft products are odorless and can be used at home, PRIDEClean concentrate is used for cleaning in public and private businesses, and each type of cleaner has a distinctive smell. Here are some more fun facts about the PRIDEClean products:

  • Besides each product having a different scent, each PRIDEClean product has a different color label.
  • Although the bathroom cleaner has an almond smell because it contains benzaldehyde, it is not an issue for people with nut allergies to use the product because the oils in the product are very refined.  
  • While most disinfectants must remain on a surface for 10 minutes to kill the COVID-19 virus, PRIDEClean products will kill it within 30 seconds. 

Chris’ depth of knowledge about Sirkin Center’s cleaning products and manufacturing was incredible and we were grateful that he shared some of it with us.

Dr. Charles Umo inspects the PH balance in a product in the Sirkin Center lab.

We also spoke to Dr. Charles Umo, Assistant Director of Quality and Compliance. He runs the laboratory at Sirkin Center where the mixing and blending of the cleaning products takes place before they are bottled and shipped. Dr. Umo, himself blind, chatted with us about his work philosophy and advancing the mission of LightHouse.
“In my job I have three focuses: customer focus, regulatory focus, and agency focus. For our customers, it’s important to get feedback about the stability and the consistency of products. For regulations, I ask, ‘Are the products safe for the people manufacturing them and the end-users? Cleaning should be safe.’ We cannot cut corners or say we can bend regulations because we’re visually impaired.”

70% of the Sirkin Center staff is blind. Dr. Umo’s passion was evident as he spoke about the agency focus of his job. “One reason I come to work every day is to help blind people to become better versions of themselves. We have in-house training for employees which is done in micro-modules where they learn the processes of Sirkin Center. Our employees can use concepts they learn in these modules at home and apply them to their own private lives.”

A closeup image of the PH balance meter

 He spoke on the importance of developing confidence in blind employees to promote the work of Sirkin Center. 
“Negative stereotypes [about blind people] have blindfolded the sighted world. How do we convince people outside the agency that we can do things if we cannot convince ourselves?”

Thus, Dr. Umo continues his work towards driving the mission of LightHouse.
We give a huge thank you to Chris Peterson, Dr. Charles Umo, Spencer Myers, Jonathan Vona and all the Sirkin Center staff for welcoming us with open arms. We know there are more stories to tell, so we will return to Sirkin Center in the future so we can share more about their work with the LightHouse Community.

LightHouse Earned the 2022 Employment Growth Award from National Industries for the Blind

LightHouse Earned the 2022 Employment Growth Award from National Industries for the Blind

It was recently announced that LightHouse was honored by National Industries for the Blind (NIB), the nation’s largest employment resource for people who are blind, with the 2022 Employment Growth Award. This award recognizes LightHouse’s efforts to increase employment retention and growth for people who are blind, have low vision or are Deafblind.
We are especially proud of winning this award as it spotlights one of our key goals in the LightHouse mission—to empower the blind community and support them in leading independent and self-sufficient lives. Through services like the LightHouse Employment Immersion Program, we have helped hundreds of blind and low vision individuals find employment—many of whom have ended up as part of the LightHouse family at our state-of-the-art Sirkin Center.
“We are proud to provide employment opportunities for people who are blind at our Sirkin Center in Alameda, California” stated agency CEO, Sharon Giovinazzo.
“Congratulations to the San Francisco LightHouse for receiving NIB’s Employment Growth Award,” said NIB President and CEO Kevin Lynch.  “The LightHouse continues to do an outstanding job of creating rewarding career opportunities for people who are blind, in greater the San Francisco Bay Area.”

LightHouse Sirkin Center Named 2022 Environmental Protection Agency Safer Choice Partner of the Year

LightHouse Sirkin Center Named 2022 Environmental Protection Agency Safer Choice Partner of the Year

LightHouse Sirkin Center has been a Safer Choice Partner of the EPA since 2019. According to the EPA website, “the Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings, find products containing chemical ingredients that are safer for human health and the environment.”
Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Cox says, “At LightHouse Sirkin Center, we are creating industry-leading cleaning products that are safer for the environment and creating employment opportunities for the blind community. Blind and visually impaired people are involved in each step of the process, from leadership to business development, to research & development, to production and fill line and inventory.”
Dr. Charles Umo says “The things we do together, accessible processes, accessible workflows, blending and bottling of high-quality cleaning product: these things are life-changing to blind people. What people thought blind people couldn’t do we are doing it now.”
Congratulations to Dr. Umo and to the entire Sirkin Center team!

Join Us for the Sirkin Center Grand Opening, October 28

Join Us for the Sirkin Center Grand Opening, October 28

We warmly extend an invitation to the members of our community to attend the Grand Opening of our new Sirkin Center in Alameda. Named after the extremely successful businessman and LightHouse’s most significant donor to date, Donald Sirkin, the Sirkin Center is the entrepreneurial heart of a growing set of social ventures and light manufacturing run by the LightHouse for the Blind. 
At the Sirkin Center, we aim to employ individuals who are blind and manufacture the highest quality eco-friendly cleaning products and tissue packets. These products, which serve communities and companies around the world, will provide the utmost utility to clients, and demonstrate our commitment to the employment of people who are blind or have low vision and caliber of our Center. 
On Friday, October 28, we invite students, supporters, and local leaders to join the Mayor of Alameda, Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft and LightHouse staff in celebrating the Grand Opening! Tours of our beautiful new facility will be held every 30 minutes from 10 AM to 3 PM. Enjoy exhibits from LightHouse’s Media and Accessible Design Lab (MAD Lab), Adaptations store, Enchanted Hills Camp, and other LightHouse programs throughout the day. The Opening Ceremony will begin at 4 PM with a reception to follow at 5 PM. Light refreshments will be served in the morning, and a wine and beer happy hour will be served during the evening reception. We hope you all can join us in celebrating this momentous occasion! Please see further details below: 
What: Sirkin Center Grand Opening 
Where: 2175 North Loop Road, Alameda, CA 94502 
When: Friday, October 28. Tours will be held from 10 AM – 3 PM, ceremony and reception will be from 4 – 6 PM 
Transportation: LightHouse vans will be available for shuttle service from Oakland Coliseum BART station to the Sirkin Center at quarter to the hour, every hour, from 9:45 AM – 3:45 PM.  
RSVP: Please register here 
For more information, please contact Carin Elam at celam@lighthouse-sf.org or by calling 415-694-7681. 

LightHouse for the Blind Wins Top Environmental Award

LightHouse for the Blind Wins Top Environmental Award

We are so proud and honored to announce that LightHouse Sirkin Center, our social enterprise dedicated to furthering the employment opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision, has been recently named one of the U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Safer Choice Partners of the Year for 2021.
The team at Lighthouse Sirkin Center have broken records over the past 18 months with their tireless work throughout the pandemic. LightHouse had record sales for its Safer Choice-certified products in 2020 and in the same year was awarded a contract to supply the entire United States Navy Fleet with two of its Skillcraft Safer Choice-certified products. LightHouse also partnered with NIB, a federal agency which organizes government contracts for nonprofits who employ blind workers to sell its Safer Choice-certified line to federal agencies across the United States.

Now our staff has been nationally recognized by the EPA as an “outstanding Safer Choice formulator-product manufacturer” of products with ingredients or chemicals that are safer for families, pets, workplaces, communities, and the environment. They are in grand company along with Apple, Home Depot and the Procter & Gamble Company.
The EPA Safer Choice program helps consumers and purchasers for facilities, such as schools and office buildings find products that perform and are safer for human health and the environment. 
From our state-of-the-art brand-new facility in Alameda, LightHouse Industries is a social enterprise dedicated to increasing the participation of people who are blind or have low vision in the workforce. 90% of all direct labor in producing  LightHouse’s Safer Choice products is provided by blind workers.
Through LightHouse Industries, jobs and experience are gained in many areas, including chemical manufacturing, chemical blending, and quality assurance and control. In this way, pathways have been developed for blind employees to become future blind leaders, scientists and skilled tradespeople.
Bryan Bashin, LightHouse CEO, says:

“The recent EPA award is a great acknowledgement that blind people can design, produce and distribute industry-leading environmentally-safe products that benefit all people. Businesses and governments who use older and more-toxic formulations can do a double service by switching to Lighthouse products, improving the environment and supporting blindness services at the same time.”
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Michal Freedhoff says: 

“I’m excited to see that the work done by many of this year’s awardees support the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of addressing climate change and advancing environmental justice.”
Congratulations to everybody at LightHouse Sirkin Center and thank you to the EPA for its recognition of this outstanding team effort.
For Safer Choice product sales inquiries, contact Product Manager Al Ahlm: AAhlm@lighthouse-sf.org or phone: 916-825-7491

The LightHouse 2020 LightHouse Annual Report is Here

The LightHouse 2020 LightHouse Annual Report is Here

2020 was a highly unusual year for everyone around the world. Despite such unprecedented circumstances, we are proud to present the 2020 Annual Report, documenting how LightHouse supported the blind community through a global pandemic in new and innovative ways.

In 2020 we were proud to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Enchanted Hills Camp, and announced ambitious plans to reimagine the entire camp as a global center for blindness, with construction planned over the next few years.

In other news, big things happened at LightHouse Industries: Sirkin Center, LightHouse’s blind labor-force manufacturing plant. We expanded the production line, including adding a hard surface cleaner effective at killing the novel coronavirus. We doubled our staff and hired a blind scientist to oversee the product blends. Our customer base of government agencies and private companies continues to grow, and so do the employment opportunities for people who are blind or have low vision. Watch the BBC’s coverage of Sirkin Center’s unprecedented growth.

Read on to learn more about LightHouse and its 2020 achievements in the annual report in PDF or Word format.

Pure Bioscience and LightHouse Win FAA Approval

Pure Bioscience and LightHouse Win FAA Approval

PURE Bioscience and LightHouse announce the approval and use of PURE Hard Surface sanitizer and disinfectant by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Succeeding a vetting process which took several weeks the FAA approved and announced that PURE Hard Surface was the only antimicrobial on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) List-N Antimicrobial Approved for use Against Corona Virus authorized to be used in the FAA locations: Control Towers, Radar Centers and Regional Control Centers.

The lead scientist on the evaluation committee for the FAA stated:

“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors, meaning their assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, or national public health or safety. The arrival of COVID-19 presented unique challenges to keeping FAA personnel and equipment safe and functional and planes moving safely through the skies. Rigorous chemical and physical testing identified only one product out of hundreds on EPA List N that met all FAA criteria (no harm to people or equipment, no warning labels or PPE required, no odors, 30-second contact time for human coronavirus, product volume available on demand, rated for Emerging Viral Pathogens, secure supply chain and ease of use. PURE Hard Surface met and exceeded all required criteria.”

Following the initial use rollout of an FAA pilot testing program the FAA is requiring its janitorial service providers for these locations to sanitize daily after cleaning using PURE Hard Surface. This test was successful and to date there are 85 FAA locations that are sanitized with PURE Hard Surface including major airports.

PURE’s Chief Operating Officer and President Tom Y. Lee said, “We are proud that our technology met the needs and requirements for the Federal Aviation Administration’s antimicrobial use. PURE Bioscience is honored to be a part of the overall effort to maintain critical US infrastructure. The chemistry and it’s attributes that lead to approval by the FAA committee are the same that we offer to all our customers for their effective antimicrobial requirements.”

75% of the workforce employed to ship, bottle, and blend Pure Bioscience chemistries is blind or has low vision.

“Our expanding social enterprise at our Sirkin Center will provide dozens of jobs for Bay Area blind employees,” said LightHouse CEO Bryan Bashin. “With the FAA’s large orders we’ll be hiring blind line workers, supervisors, technicians and supporting jobs, at our new Alameda plant. And we’re only beginning”

Production and Warehouse Assistant

POSITION:                           Production and Warehouse Assistant

REPORTS TO:                      Plant Manager, Assistant Plant Manager, Lead Person & MOD


The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, headquartered in downtown San Francisco, is looking for Production Assistants to assist with production, warehousing and shipping of product at our Lighthouse Industries location currently in San Leandro. This position will be moving to Alameda later this year to our new Factory location.

Role Overview

The LightHouse is currently in a period of growth, increasing our capacity to serve more low-vision and blind clients. We seek dedicated team members to help us grow our warehousing and production capability at our Lighthouse Industries (LHI) factory.

This position is designated to provide work experience for an individual who is blind or visually impaired.


Education:  High school diploma or GED required

Experience: Will train

Other:         The Production Assistant is responsible to check product, tape full boxes and then place those boxes on a pallet. The assistant will stretch wrap the pallet when it becomes full. The Warehouse Assistant will then proceed to pull, pack and fill product and work on a production line.

Job Responsibilities:

  • The assistant will check their supplies, making sure that they have enough for the day
  • The Production Assistant will report any out of spec. or suspected out of spec conditions to the Machine Operator at once
  • The person in this role will work on production lines filling, packing and shipping
  • The assistant will sort and pack boxes
  • The assistant will make boxes
  • The Production Assistant, upon filling a box, will remove it and put an empty box in its place
  • The assistant will perform cycle counts
  • The assistant will sweep, clean, and perform housekeeping when there is down time
  • The person in this role will rework product
  • The Production Assistant will neatly stack the full carton onto the pallet
  •  Using a hand jack, the assistant will remove the completed full pallet and put it in the designated area for stretch wrapping
  • After the pallet is removed for stretch wrapping, the assistant will place a new pallet down for the next products
  • The assistant will stretch wrap the full pallet to be warehoused
  • The person in this role will keep the area neat and tidy. The assistant will empty the trash daily
  • The Production Assistant should let their supervisor know when their task has been completed
  • The assistant should exercise caution around machines and when the forklift is operating in the area
  • The Production Assistant should report all accidents or safety concerns to their supervisor at once
  • The assistant should never perform a task if they feel it is unsafe until they talk to a supervisor
  • The assistant will lift or carry 60 lbs. throughout the day
  • The assistant will also stand for long periods and climb up and down ladders
  • The Production Assistant is expected to complete any other duties as assigned by their supervisor

Other Duties:

Please note that this job description is not designed to cover or contain a comprehensive listing of activities, duties or responsibilities that are required of the employee for this job. Duties, responsibilities and activities may change at any time with or without notice.

The Production Assistant will also stand for long periods and climb up and down ladders throughout the day. The Production Assistant is expected to complete any other duties as assigned by their supervisor

Who We Are:

LightHouse has an audacious mission – to transform the lives of the 40,000 blind people in the greater Bay Area and beyond. We do this through tech design, disability advocacy, consultation, classes and community formation in San Francisco, our four satellite offices and Enchanted Hills Camp in Napa. We are a fun, fascinating, widely diverse, warm and friendly community. We work in downtown San Francisco in a 40,000 square foot state-of-the-art workspace renowned for its universal design, steps from Civic Center BART. LightHouse is working for nothing less than to change the future for blind people and the wider community.

Within a five-minute walk are the world headquarters for Twitter, Uber, Dolby, Zendesk and many other tech giants. Within three blocks are all of the principal building for Northern California’s federal, state and local government. Also in our neighborhood are many theaters, San Francisco Symphony and Opera, the Asian Art Museum and dozens of other key cultural anchors of the entire Bay Area.

The successful candidate will join a unique organization in which blind and sighted professionals work together at every level. Our governing Board of Directors, management and staff are all composed of roughly equal numbers of blind and sighted people, a parity unprecedented in our field.

Founded in 1902, LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired provides skills, resources and community for the advancement of all individuals who are blind or have low vision. Our innovative programs have been featured in 60 Minutes, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal and beyond. The blind community comes to LightHouse to learn how to travel independently with a white cane, to rejoin the workforce, use accessible technology, and meet a community of mentors and peers. From unique tactile maps, to an unparalleled camp for blind campers, to a world prize for blind ambition, LightHouse offers programs unavailable elsewhere

Learn About Us:

LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired
1155 Market Street, 10th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

Employee Benefits:

The LightHouse offers a rich package of benefits, including medical, vision and dental insurance. Employees are eligible for an employer-matched 401(k) plan and subsidized health club membership, among many other perks.


Depending on Experience; industry competitive

How to Apply:

After reviewing the complete Job Description please apply by going to our website at: https://lighthouse-sf.org/about/careers/.

Please complete the application there as well as a cover letter and résumé as word processing document attachments (no PDFs please).

Please submit to hr@lighthouse-sf.org, including the job title in the subject line. We will not consider videos or hyperlinks to online profiles. Due to time constraints we will only respond to complete submissions. Thanks for your understanding.