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Miami Lighthouse For The Blind Celebrates Huge Milestone

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Lighthouse for the Blind is celebrating a huge milestone. After 85 years of helping the blind community, they're expanding in a big way to help young kids.

"We've grown from a little bungalow house, into a modern 55,000 square foot vision rehabilitation facility," said the organization's President and CEO Virginia Jacko.

Miami Lighthouse for the Blind was founded 85 years ago in 1931 by Dolly Gamble and she had some help from one of the most famous blind people in history.

"She said to her friend Helen Keller, 'There aren't any blind people in Miami, and that's because people like me, would've been institutionalized'," Jacko told CBS4 News.

She herself is blind, and its programs and classes like the ones being offered at Miami Lighthouse for the Blind that has helped her achieve success in her life.

The Center for the Blind helps educate people of all ages.

"Imagine if you lost your eyesight, but you wanted to get a job," said Jacko.  "You need to know how to use a computer.  How do you use an iPhone? How to have good orientation and mobility?"

The center helps teach students both basic and advanced skills many people who have their sight take for granted.

"The client is learning to edit a word document, to save it, and to retrieve a document," said technology and braille Instructor, Oseas DeLeon.

Many of the clients said they feel loved there, so it's not just a learning center for them, but more of a second home.

"I love coming here and it's a pleasure to come here and be around people who want to help you," said student Herb Klein.  "Everybody here who's an employee here works to help us."

The center is now expanding to include a new learning center for children.

"Our entire parking garage is under construction. It's going to be 18-thousand square feet of five classrooms with daily services beginning with blind babies," explained Jacko.

The new facilities will open in time for the fall semester of next year.  It's scheduled for August 27, 2017.

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