Chicago Lighthouse president to retire

November 12, 2008 11:46:41 AM PST
James Kesteloot came to the Chicago Lighthouse as a child. Now, he's in charge of the agency, which has grown into one of the largest rehabilitation and education for the blind and the visually disabled.They say timing is everything. And that is especially true in the factory operated by the Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired. Thirty people are employed as the U.S. government's sole supplier of clocks.

"I've seen people put their kids through school, buy a home that they would have never had if they didn't have chance to work," said Kesteloot.

When Kesteloot came to the Chicago Lighthouse as a 13-year old he could not see print.

"That was my first experience at the Lighthouse and probably my most important...because I was able to read a little bit and read my way through school," said Kesteloot.

Chicago Lighthouse provides education, training and employment for more than 70,000 people each year. The group also took over Chicagoland Radio Information Service (CRIS), which programs for a blind audience, when the station faced financial distress.

"We try to cover a whole gamut of things that is meaningful to people who are blind...recreational reading ...some practical things...helpful tips on how to raise a blind child," said Kesteloot.

Kesteloot takes pride in his organization's accomplishments. He plans to retire after 40 years at the end of December.

"You always see some good things happening. People whether they're getting a job or getting a lens from our clinic where they can read or able to listen to something on CRIS Radio, it's rewarding I'll miss it. "

For more information on the Chicago Lighthouse, visit ChicagoLighthouse.org


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