Keystone Blind Association opened its doors in 1947, due the passion and conviction of one woman, Lillian Rosenblum. Even at that time, she recognized the need for support and services for blind and visually impaired persons, so that they might be able to not merely survive, but thrive in a “sighted world”. She decided to be the advocate for this group of people; and by garnering the support of community leaders and obtaining a charter from Pennsylvania Association for the Blind, a new human services agency (KBA) was born. Since that time, KBA has expanded its reach to include all of Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, and its scope to embrace Children’s Programs, Prevention of Blindness and employment for blind and disabled individuals.
THROUGH THE YEARS – A HISTORY OF KEYSTONE
1947 | Operations commenced in the Boyle Building in downtown Sharon. Operations consisted of chair caning, rug weaving, broom sales, and home visiting.
1951 | First property is purchased and operations moved to 69 South Oakland Avenue in Sharon.
1959 | The Agency became a member of the United Way (Community Chest).
1968 | The Agency became a charter member of Pennsylvania Industries for the Blind and Handicapped (PIBH).
1975 | Operations moved to a new 5,000 square foot facility on North Hermitage Road.
1979 | The Agency legally changed its name to the “Mercer County Blind Association” (MCBA).
1981 | Microfilm and the Radio Reading services began.
1983 | Labeling and mailing services began.
1984 | MCBA began operation of photo driver’s license centers in five counties.
1985 | MCBA began dispensing eyeglasses.
1985 | Operations began at first “road-side rest” at Site E in Shenango Township.
1986 | More than fifty persons were employed by MCBA this year.
1990 | MCBA moved operations to 1230 Stambaugh Avenue in Sharon.
1990 | The rehabilitation teaching program was added.
1991 | The manufacture of cleaning chemicals was initiated.
1995 | The Agency changed its name to “Keystone Blind Association” (KBA).
1996 | Agency computers were networked. KBA got a home page on the internet and an e-mail address.
1996 | Number of sites operated by KBA totaled 24.
1997 | Celebrated 50th Anniversary!
1997 | Number of sites operated by KBA totaled 27.
1999 | KBA moved workcenter operations to 12 Dayton Way in Sharon.
1999 | Classes in “Assistive Technology” were offered for the first time.
2000 | KBA created a new corporation, “Keystone Independence Management” (KIM).
2001 | “Keystone Kids”, a program for blind/visually impaired children, began.
2002 | KBA created a new corporation, “Keystone Vocational Services” (KVS).
2003 | KBA opened a low vision clinic in the KBA Stambaugh Avenue facility in cooperation with Dr. Paul Freeman, Diplomate in Low Vision.
2005 | KBA sent 20 blind/visually impaired Keystone Kids to participate in the Youth Education Series at Disney World.
2006 | KBA was named “Large Employer of the Year” by the Disabled American Veterans’ Department of Pennsylvania.
2006 | KBA began administrative operations at Beaver County Association for the Blind (BCAB) as an affiliated agency.
2006 | KBA moved industrial operations from Dayton Way to Division Street in Sharon.
2008 | KBA established the National Foundation for Blind Children (a.k.a. Pennsylvania Foundation for Blind Children).
2008 | The manufacture and sale of digging tools began at the “Key” workcenter.
2008 | Began a rest area contract in Philadelphia through our BCAB affiliate.
2008 | Total sites statewide now stood at 34.
2009 | Keystone Vocational Services became a member of National Industries for the Blind (NIB) and had its first products assigned for development – digging and striking tools.
2009 | Keystone Independence Management provided management services to a new affiliate in Delaware County – Center for the Blind and Disabled (CBD), and Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI).
2010 | Keystone Kids made a second historic trip to the Youth Education Series at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
2011 | KBA received NAC accreditation.
2011 | Began lawn maintenance and snow removal contracts.
2012 | Began manufacture of toilet paper for state correctional facilities.
2012 | KBA began management of Montgomery County Association for the Blind (MCAB).
2012 | KBA received the Phoenix Award from the Shenango Valley Chamber of Commerce.
2013 | Acquired Cheyney University cleaning contract through CBD affiliate.
2013 | Our first order for digging and striking tools were sold to the Federal Government.
2013 | Began partnership with ERB Industries to assemble cap-style safety helmets.
2014 | KBA published their first ever magazine highlighting all services and industrial programs.
2014 | Our first order for safety helmets were sold to the Federal Government.
2014 | Art Wedge, longtime KBA employee, received statewide and national recognition for working at KBA for 62 years!
2015 | Keystone moved operations into the former Bolotin Furniture Building on East State Street in Hermitage.
2017 | Keystone celebrates 70 years of service!!