Since COVID-19 struck, NIB and its associated nonprofit agencies have been working tirelessly to help our nation respond. Nearly 4,000 Americans who are blind working at 40 NIB associated agencies are producing more than 1,500 different products being used in the response. In many cases, these employees are helping to save lives by producing critical supplies for those working on the front lines.
Austin Lighthouse for the Blind in Texas tripled its output of hand sanitizers and has shipped over 3 million bottles since the threat of the coronavirus reached our shores. Bosma Enterprises in Indianapolis is doing its part to keep local hospitals, and those run by the Department of Veterans of Affairs, stocked with exam gloves. And several agencies including San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind, NewView Oklahoma, and IFB Solutions, in North Carolina, are leveraging their sewing expertise to produce hundreds of thousands of face masks.
Our agencies are also filling the need for critical items beyond personal protective equipment. Outlook Nebraska is working overtime to address shortfalls in the toilet paper supply while the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired-Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, in Rochester, New York, is answering the barrage of calls coming into the region’s information and community services referral line.
Ingenuity and the ability to pivot operations positioned our network to leverage its collective capabilities and act quickly. Lighthouse Central Florida in Orlando transformed its call centers to aid in the surge in unemployment claims in the state. IBVI in Milwaukee reworked Army construction kits to include components needed to build emergency field hospitals. And Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany (NABA) in New York is finding innovative solutions to meet the demand for N95 masks by utilizing the Bodyfilter 95+ fabric it uses in the manufacture of cleanroom coveralls.
Our agencies haven’t stopped there – employees are volunteering time, donating supplies, and hosting virtual support groups to help their local communities. Central Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Utica, New York, organized a community collection of 50,000 cloth masks. Arizona Industries for the Blind partnered with local food banks to package and deliver food throughout the community.
The story of the work people who are blind are doing to keep America strong is not often told, but the support that they provide speaks volumes. To learn more about NIB’s network of associated agencies and the myriad ways in which they keep our country running, visit our COVID-19 response page. To download the full infographic, click here.