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 blind or visually impaired since 1956. Founded primarily as a social club for seniors with vision loss, today LHP employs 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.
Founded in 1956 by the Lions Club of St. Petersburg, the Lighthouse of Pinellas was originally named the Sight Center.
In 1966 J.B. and Muriel Watson founded 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, with the name officially changed to the Lighthouse of Pinellas in August, 2005.
Our mission is “to advance the independence and quality of life for individuals in Pinellas County who are blind or visually impaired.”
Lighthouse of Pinellas is the only private, non-profit agency providing rehabilitation training to blind and visually impaired 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 and our goal is to provide training and rehabilitation that help clients live safe, healthy, and productive lives as independently as possible.
Our programming includes:
- 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
- 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.
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
Mr. Howard Knapp named Executive Director of Channel Markers for the Blind.
1975 – October
First permanent building at 1610 N. Myrtle Ave. opens.
1976 – June
Ms. Priscilla Rogers named Executive Director.
1981 – November
Ms. 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
Mr. 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
Mr. Leonard Van Noord named Executive Director.
2000 – August
Agency name changed to Watson Center, Inc.
2002 – May
Mr. Dan Mann named Executive Director (currently President & CEO).
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.
6925 112th Circle North, Suite 103
Largo, FL 33773-5200