Miami Lighthouse For The Blind Celebrates 90 Years

November 30, 2019


In the late 1920s blind activist Dolly Gamble enlisted the help of the Lions Club of Miami and Miami
Rotary Club to help the blind attain independence. From their efforts the Florida Association of
Workers for the Blind, which would later be called Miami Lighthouse, was born. Today Miami
Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is one of the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit
serving the needs of the blind and visually impaired. Through education, training, research and vision
enhancement, Miami Lighthouse provides hope, confidence, and independence to people of all ages,
transforming the lives of nearly 90,000 blind and visually impaired people annually, from babies to
seniors, and their families.

In 2020, Miami Lighthouse will celebrate 90 years of service excellence to the blind and visually
impaired community. In 2005, Virginia A. Jacko was named the first President and CEO who happens to
be blind in the 90 year history of the Miami Lighthouse. A key to CEO Jacko’s leadership is her ability to
collaborate and build bridges within the Florida community. She routinely engages with academia,
healthcare, social services, and for-profit entities in Miami-Dade County and beyond to establish
relationships that enable the Miami Lighthouse to have a significant impact both nationally and
internationally and for its patrons to have a significant outcome of independence through
employment, advocacy, and validation of best practices.

The Florida Heiken Children's Vision Program, cited by the American Optometric Association as a
national model other states should adopt, provides comprehensive eye exams and prescription glasses
for underserved school-children throughout Florida using their fleet of five mobile eye care units. The
Miami Lighthouse Learning Center’s innovative programs, such as their internationally recognized
inclusion pre-kindergarten – from which they are developing a certificate program with a sister
institution in Israel, new kindergarten and mothers’ play days for their blind toddlers, make a
difference in the lives of children and their families. Through GED and ESOL classes for adults, offered
in collaboration with Miami-Dade County Schools Adult Education; their nationally recognized music
inclusion program, which trains students, enrolled nationally and internationally, for employment in
the music industry; and a job-readiness training program that prepares participants for mainstream,
competitive, integrated employment, Miami Lighthouse strives to ensure that their clients can take
their place in the workforce and lead productive, fulfilling lives.

Miami Lighthouse also contracts with the School Board of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (the 3 rd
largest school district in the U.S.) for their birth to 2, pre-kindergarten, new kindergarten, functional
vision and learning media assessments, Braille transcribing, Braille music distance learning, Adult Basic
Education/ GED, English as a Second Language for visually impaired adults, and the Florida Heiken
Children’s Vision Program.

Under CEO Jacko, Miami Lighthouse has risen to be counted among the elite top 35 charities in the
country according the Charity Navigator, the nation’s premier independent nonprofit evaluator. Her
leadership moved the organization from a two-star rating to a four-star rating, the highest rating
possible, reflecting sound fiscal management, responsible use of donor dollars and financial strength.

Miami Lighthouse will be celebrating its 90th anniversary on January 25, 2020 at the historic Biltmore
Hotel in Coral Gables. For more information regarding tickets, tables or sponsorships, please contact
Cameron Sisser at or 786-362-7515.

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