On Wednesday, September 2nd, we celebrated the one year anniversary of the opening of the Inland Northwest Lighthouse (INL) in Spokane, WA.

Purchasing the former Tidy Man’s grocery store in January of 2008, Lighthouse board, staff, and supporters moved briskly down the path of getting a manufacturing operation up and running.

The INL saw its first blind production employees hired in June of 2008. Last week we celebrated with 34 blind employees in Spokane.

INL employees are hard at work producing quality office products for the General Services Administration (GSA), including a line of communication boards (display easels, dry erase wall boards, and cork bulletin boards), paper trimmers, metal covered binders, and hanging file folders.

We were privileged to have some of our major customers from GSA visit us. Jack Wise and Linda Charo were in from GSA Region III – Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. We were also joined by Greg and Mark from our co-branding partner the Acco Corporation in Chicago. We are partnering with Acco to produce the highest quality communication boards in the industry. Four staff members from National Industries for the Blind in Alexandria, Virginia, joined the party, as did our Chelan based board of trustees member Don Mollett and his wife Betty.

While our employees, special out-of-town guests, and members of the Spokane community enjoyed a fantastic barbecue lunch in the sunshine, we were all entertained by the Ravins band. This professional band plays gigs around Spokane, and their talented drummer is our very own blind production worker Kurt Lantz.

Kurt also presented Jack Wise with the 40,000th communication board made in our Spokane facility – a dry erase magnetic board with aluminum frame that Kurt and his co-workers produced.

After the presentation, “The King” made an appearance. Our new operations guy in Spokane, Doug Wever, is a talented musical impersonator. He wowed the crowd with three Elvis numbers in full Elvis regalia, and bestowed the sacred Elvis scarf on production worker Maria Bradford.

The celebration could not have been any better.

Looking forward to next year!

– Kirk Adams, President and CEO, Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc.