Drawing on more than 200 years of combined service, Lighthouse Guild’s experience is unmatched.
Lighthouse Guild was officially formed in December 2013 when Jewish Guild Healthcare and Lighthouse International combined, to become the leading not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization. Drawing on more than 200 years of combined service, with histories dating back to 1914 and 1905, respectively, Lighthouse Guild’s experience is extensive. Our history of service is outlined in this timeline below.
1905 – Winifred and Edith Holt, two sisters, found The Lighthouse, which quickly becomes a pioneer in the field of vision rehabilitation. A year later, it’s officially incorporated as The New York Association for the Blind Inc. and begins providing counseling and instruction.
1913 –The Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School opens its doors. It is a music school for people who are blind or have vision loss.
1914 – The first formal meeting of the New York Guild for the Jewish Blind is held. The organization begins providing care and support for blind children, and improving physical, mental, and economic conditions for blind adults.
1919 – The Guild opens a home in Yonkers to care for blind children. In the years following, a cottage for blind women and an annex for blind men are added to the home.
1923 – More than a decade after opening the first Lighthouse camp for children with vision loss, River Lighthouse, a second summer program launches with the opening of Camp Munger.
1935 – The Guild opens the Braille Library, which will go on to become famous for transcribing textbooks for blind children.
1951 – The Guild School opens its doors providing education and therapeutic services for children age 5-21 from the metropolitan area who are blind, have vision loss or deaf/blind, and with additional disabilities.
1952 – The Lighthouse forges an affiliation with the Ophthalmology Foundation, which begins conducting first-of-its-kind blindness research for the organization.
1960 – The New York Guild for the Jewish Blind is renamed The Jewish Guild for the Blind to reflect its non-sectarian status.
1961 – The Guild opens its psychiatric clinic – the first to specialize in blindness – which continues to improve people’s lives today, and remains the only multi-disciplinary psychiatric clinic of its kind in the country.
1967 – The Lighthouse opens a child development center. Operating today as The Ethel and Samuel J. LeFrak Children’s Educational Services, the multidisciplinary program gives preschool children with vision loss and other disabilities a solid foundation to help them reach their full potential.
1971 – The Guild opened the Estelle R. Newman City Center at 15 West 65th Street in Manhattan.
1975 – The first American Medical Association-accredited professional training program in low vision care is established at The Lighthouse.
1981 – The Pisart Award in Technological Innovation is inaugurated to recognize a person who has made a noteworthy contribution to the prevention, cure or treatment of severe vision loss or blindness.
1984 – GuildCare, the Guild’s Adult Day Health Care Program, opens at the Guild Home and in the Bronx.
1986 – 1995
1989 – The Guild’s Elizabeth L. Newman Preschool opens in Manhattan.The New York Association for the Blind Inc. officially becomes known as The Lighthouse Inc. to reflect the deep philosophical shift embraced by the organization to define people for their potential rather than disability.
1990 – The Guild opens its Day Treatment Program to serve people who have vision loss, are hearing impaired and multi-disabled.
1994 – The Guild opens the Diagnostic Treatment Center at the 65th Street location, offering medical, diabetes and low vision rehabilitation services.
1996 – 1999
1996 – The Guild and Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of the University of Miami School of Medicine complete plans for Lois Pope Jewish Guild for the Blind Low Vision Center located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.
1997 – The Guild establishes GuildNet, a managed long-term care program that, for the next 18 years, will provide in-home care to thousands of New Yorkers.
1998 – The Lighthouse Inc. becomes Lighthouse International in recognition of its outreach on behalf of people worldwide who are visually impaired. The Guild’s Assistive Technology Center opens at the 65th Street location.
2000 – 2003
2000 – Sightcare, the Guild’s program to educate caregivers for blind and people with vision loss, commences training.
2001 – Lighthouse International inaugurates The Henry Grunwald Award for Public Service and names Grunwald its first recipient for his significant contributions in raising public awareness of vision impairment.
2003 – The Guild awards the first Alfred W. Bressler Prize in Vision Science, a prize given to a professional who’s made important advancements in the treatment of eye disease or rehabilitation of persons with vision loss, to Richard A. Lewis, MD, MS.
2004 – The national GuildScholar Program begins, which awards scholarships to help legally blind young adults successfully transition to college, to support their post-graduate education, and to facilitate career development.
2006 – The Guild’s Children’s Vision Health program starts. It’s the first national tele-support group for parents of children with vision loss.
2013 – Jewish Guild Healthcare and Lighthouse International announce plans to combine as one organization.
2014 – present
2014 –The combined organization, Lighthouse Guild, officially launches and focuses efforts on integrating vision and healthcare services and expanding access through education and awareness.
2018 – Lighthouse Guild rebrands and expressly defines its mission as addressing and preventing vision loss and moves to its current location at 250 West 64th Street, New York, New York.
- Lighthouse Guild launches a new mission statement: To provide exceptional services that inspire people who are visually impaired to attain their goals.
- Opens the Lighthouse Guild Technology Center – the largest premier assistive technology resource in the U.S. The Center is a hub connecting innovators and users to advance technological developments. People who are visually impaired, as well as anyone who needs help, can come for assessments and opportunities to try out cutting-edge and basic technology and training.
- Behavioral Health services were vital to our patients during the COVID pandemic. Through telehealth, we offered continuity of mental healthcare, which continues today.
- GuildCare Adult Day Health Care program reopens in Manhattan, Niagara Falls, Albany, and Buffalo. Our program again offered comprehensive medical care and a day rich with activity to returning members who had been isolated due to the pandemic.
Lighthouse Guild Technology Center hosts numerous tours and tech demonstrations connecting physicians, vision scientists, developers, academics, and end users — including a visit from New York City Mayor, the honorable Eric L. Adams and the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities (MOPD) Commissioner Christina Curry.
The Center is a testing site for innovations for everything from navigation to daily living. Lighthouse Guild’s ongoing research initiatives include developing and evaluating technology that will allow people with vision loss to navigate their world better, improve current standards of low vision care, and perform quantitative evaluations of the utility of low-vison clinical devices.