No Extinguishing Their Passion at Seeing Hand Association in Wheeling

Photo by Scott McCloskey Seeing Hand client Bernie Byrum stands at the new fire extinguisher work station on the second floor of the North Wheeling facility.

A new workshop project that involves refilling and selling refurbished fire extinguishers was officially launched at The Seeing Hand Association in Wheeling on Wednesday.

The new project which was developed after an engineering capability review by the National Industries for the Blind and modeled after a similar project in Richmond, Va., will be added to the facility’s second floor workshop where Seeing Hand clients also cane chairs and produce mops, according to Executive Director Karen Haught.

“We are excited to bring this project to the Ohio Valley,” Haught said. “The fire extinguisher project will provide yearly revenue for our organization as well as employment opportunities for blind and visually impaired people in the Ohio Valley. With the unemployment rate among the blind at 70 percent, it is our mission and important to the Seeing Hand Association to find projects that enable us to hire more employees,” she added.

Haught said they will be collaborating with community organizations and businesses throughout the tri-state area to initiate sales.

“Once we generate local sales and begin phase two of funding and purchasing a box van, we will begin selling outside of the tri-state area. For now, we have a limited number of refilled fire extinguishers ready to go,” explained Haught. “It is our hope to start taking additional orders in June.”

Haught said when she joined the Seeing Hand nearly six years ago, the board of directors handed her the task of eventually finding an additional workshop project that would fit well with the agency and allow their workshop to grow.

“That was the goal, to make the workshop grow,” Haught said.

She traveled to a variety of locations including Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Morgantown, Orlando and eventually to Richmond in search of a workshop project that would be the right fit for the Seeing Hand agency. She said the National Industries for the Blind helped in her search efforts.

Soon after finding funding for the new project, Seeing Hand officials decided to renovate part of the second floor workshop to better accommodate the new extinguisher project. She said all of the proper steps were taken, including, getting the proper state certification and licensing requirements in place for the project.

She said the agency will not only sell the common ABC type of extinguishers, but they have the capabilities of doing pressure testing and recertifications of extinguishers after they expire. The extinguishers they refurbish are commonly used in homes, businesses and on construction sites.

Bernie Byrum of Wheeling, a Seeing Hand client who suffers from macular degeneration, said he is looking forward to training and working with the agency’s new workshop.

More information can be found on the agency’s website, seeinghandassociation.com, or by calling the office at 304-232-4810. Potential customers also can stop by the office at 750 Main St. in Wheeling to place an order.

There is a gift shop in the lobby with items for sale ranging from brooms and mops to other handmade goods.

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