History and Mission
We are Lighthouse of Pinellas and have served our community for 60 years.
Lighthouse of Pinellas, Inc. (LHP) has been serving Pinellas County residents who are visually impaired or blind for over 60 years. Founded primarily as a social club for seniors with vision loss, today LHP employs a variety of specially-trained staff certified and/or licensed in vision rehabilitation, orientation and mobility, occupational therapy, mental health counseling and speech pathology to help clients live safe, healthy lives as independently as possible.
Established by the Lions Club of St. Petersburg, the Lighthouse of Pinellas was originally named the Sight Center.
In 1966, J.B. and Muriel Watson formed the Channel Markers for the Blind, an organization providing the same services offered at the Sight Center for residents in northern Pinellas County. In 1984 the two organizations merged to become the Pinellas Center for the Visually Impaired. Then, in August 2005, the name officially changed to the Lighthouse of Pinellas.
Lighthouse of Pinellas is the only private, non-profit agency providing vision rehabilitation training for individuals of all ages who are residents of Pinellas County, Florida, under one roof. Our programs are accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blind and Low Vision Services.
Our services include:
- Independent Living Program for adults and seniors
- Orientation and Mobility services
- Diabetes self-management training
- Occupational Therapy
- Early Intervention Program for children ages birth through five years
- Children’s Program for ages six to 12
- Transition Program for teens
- Adaptive technology training
- Vocational Rehabilitation for adults seeking employment
- Individual, group and family counseling
- Parent and family resources
At the Lighthouse of Pinellas our training, outreach and education reaches over 2,000 individuals annually.
LHP Mission Statement
Our mission is “to advance the independence and quality of life for individuals in Pinellas County who are blind or visually impaired.”
LHP Vision Statement
Every individual who is blind or visually impaired has the opportunity to achieve his or her fullest potential and to pursue his or her aspirations in all aspects of life.
Celebrating 60 years!
In 2016, Lighthouse of Pinellas celebrated its 60th anniversary. This is a look back to the people and events that paved the way to exceptional vision rehabilitation and therapy services in Pinellas County.
1956 – May
The Sight Center for the Blind, Inc. founded by Lions Club of St. Petersburg.
1967 – May
Channel Markers, Inc. founded by Mr. & Mrs. John B. Watson.
1969 – June
Channels Markers, Inc. legally changed its name to Channel Markers for the Blind, Inc.
1973 – December
Henry Henriquez, owner of the Pelican Restaurant on Clearwater Beach donated $10,000 and vacant land at 1610 N. Myrtle Ave. for a permanent building to house offices and training facilities for Channel Markers for the Blind.
1974 – October
Ground breaking ceremony for Channel Markers’ permanent location at 1610 N. Myrtle Ave.
1975 – February
Howard Knapp named Executive Director of Channel Markers for the Blind.
1975 – October
First permanent building at 1610 N. Myrtle Ave. opens.
1976 – June
Priscilla Rogers named Executive Director.
1981 – November
Patricia Rosser named Executive Director.
1984 – March
The two independent groups: Community Center for the Blind (formerly the Sight Center) and Channel Markers for the Blind, merged and became Channel Markers – Community Centers for the Visually Impaired, Inc. (CCVI).
1984 – October
Channel Markers – Community Centers for the Visually Impaired became Pinellas Center for the Visually Impaired, Inc. (PCVI).
1987 – January
Blind Babies Program (Now Early Intervention) began.
1987 – July
Robert Nelms named Executive Director.
1990 – July
Stephen Barrett named Executive Director.
1993 – September
Largo building at 6925 112th Circle N. was purchased.
Achieved accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Blind & Low Vision Services (NAC).
1994 – October
Renovations complete on Largo location on 112th Circle.
2000 – June
Leonard Van Noord named Executive Director.
2000 – August
Agency name changed to Watson Center, Inc.
2002 – May
Daniel T. Mann named Executive Director (currently President Emeritus).
2003 – January
Agency name changed to Watson Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Inc.
2005 – August
Agency name changed to Lighthouse of Pinellas, Inc.
2007 – January
Launched year-round Transition Program for teens ages 14 until high school graduation.
2016 – February
Children’s Program for 6 to 14 year-olds began.
2017 – July
Kimberly Church named Chief Executive Officer
6925 112th Circle North, Suite 103
Largo, FL 33773-5200