Lions Industries for the Blind, Inc. (LIB) recently endowed a scholarship through the Lenoir Community College Foundation.
“We are excited about the Lions Industries for the Blind scholarship and the opportunities it provides to our students,” LCC Director of Institutional Advancement Jeanne Kennedy said. “The scholarship demonstrates the Lions Industries for the Blind’s commitment to education and to its employees,” she said.
“Our board strongly believes in education, providing training opportunities for the visually impaired and providing dignified employment opportunities,” LIB Board Chair Rick Landis said. “We have been blessed with good business success and we wish to share it in the form of this scholarship.”
LIB Executive Director Ray Amyette said LIB has always encouraged its employees to continue their education by providing an education reimbursement program. “With the technology available today, visually impaired students are able to participate better than in the past,” he said. “We have success stories of our employees such as my assistant, Teresa Harper. She wanted to take a class and so I took a computer class with her. We then enrolled in a second class and after that she continued on, transferred from LCC to East Carolina University where she took her classes online and graduated,” he said.
“Our employees, staff, and board believe in this community and the major part that the community college plays in it and the opportunities it provides,” Landis said.
To be eligible for the scholarship, applicants must have a 3.0 grade point average, be a full-time student, reside in Lenoir County or counties east of Interstate 95, must be visually impaired and demonstrate financial need. First consideration will be given to employees of LIB.
“Our success has allowed expansion of employment opportunities and facilities
offered to the blind and visually impaired,” Amyette said. “We have also been able to provide employment for those with other serious disabilities such as deafness, retardation, diabetes, and orthopedic problems. LIB will continue to offer its clients the employment opportunities and experience they need to take their place as a productive member of society.”
Since October 2002, LIB has made its home at 4126 Berkeley Avenue. The move to Berkeley Avenue increased the space for LIB to carry out its operation to 40,500 square feet. Through the hard work and cooperation of its Board of Directors, many Lions Club Members, and its employees, LIB has achieved a reputation for providing viable jobs to blind and visually impaired citizens of Eastern North Carolina.
LIB’s history starts as early as the late 1960s when the North Carolina Division of Services for the Blind approached the Kinston Host Lions Club to establish a facility to serve the area’s blind and visually handicapped. After two years of study by the Host and the Ram Neuse Clubs, a charter was issued and in April 1971, “Eastern Carolina Industries for the Blind, Inc.” was established on East Street in Kinston.
The ultimate goal was, and remains, to provide employment for the blind and visually impaired in a setting that affords both income and dignity to the individual, with no compromise on the quality of production.
In 1975 the operation was moved to a larger facility on East Lenoir Avenue and the charter amended to officially change the name to “Lions Industries for the Blind, Inc.” (LIB). In 1976, LIB became a project of the entire Lions District and also became associated with National Industries for the Blind, a non-profit agency through which all government work is assigned to affiliated agencies. In April 1981, the operation was moved to West Vernon Avenue. The facilities at 2600 West Vernon were expanded in 1986 to provide 13,700 square feet for operations before moving to its current facilities.
Pictured, left to right, are Lions Industries for the Blind, Inc. (LIB) Director Ray Amyette, Lenoir Community College President Dr. Brantley Briley, and LIB Board Chair Rick Landis.