April 12, 2012
The Virginia Industries for the Blind (VIB) held an open house as part of a series of events for the Monticello Road Community. This is a celebration of one of Charlottesville's oldest streets through photography and a series of community events. The exhibition is a neighborhood celebration with a series of events that provide opportunities to get to know the people in the neighborhood.
People were allowed to take a look inside a factory that trains and employs blind people to work. The employees are trained to do everything from making mop heads, to beds for area prisons, and even making a large percent of the beds in local colleges.
The facility has been around since 1916, and many of those who work there have been there for years. VIB currently has operations in nineteen locations throughout Virginia, employing approximately 150 people, 100 or more of whom are blind or visually impaired. Rachel Payne, VIB's lead production supervisor explains why most employees have been around for a while.
"There are a couple different factors. Some work here because they like what they do, some because they've gone and worked in other places and they just don't fit in as well and they come back here because this is home," said Payne.
Other events in the Monticello Road Community series include: a neighborhood and community planning panel, story sharing and oral history, and an art discussion. The exhibition closes on April 27 with a tentative brunch to close out the event on April 28.