The Foundation Collaborates with GE Lighting to “Re-Lamp” the Overbrook School for the Blind

November 20, 2015

Thanks to a collaboration between the Foundation Fighting Blindness and GE Lighting, students on the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, campus of the Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) are now enjoying significant lighting improvements. A “re-lamping” effort, courtesy of GE Lighting, replaced much of the school’s existing lighting with energy-efficient lighting and fixtures in several classrooms, along the outdoor canopy corridor and inside OSB’s Field House. GE donated new lighting products, and all fixtures were installed by Vanguard Building Solutions, LLC.

OSB was chosen for the re-lamping as part of the GE Lighting VisionWalk Challenge, a contest in which teams from the Foundation’s nationwide 5K VisionWalk program compete for extra funding provided by the company. In 2014, during the program’s spring and fall seasons, the teams were challenged to raise at least $500 during a two-week period to spur early fundraising. The incentive was that GE Lighting would distribute $25,000 among the top 10 fundraising teams for each walk, providing dedicated walkers with boosts toward their team goals.

As a bonus, the highest-earning regional VisionWalk was given the opportunity to nominate a local non-profit organization as a recipient of re-lamping. The 2014 winner was the Philadelphia VisionWalk.

Earlier this week, on November 17, representatives from GE Lighting, Vanguard Building Solutions and the Foundation Fighting Blindness as well as other guests gathered with OSB students for a “Light Up” tour to see the upgrades and improved lighting quality firsthand.

“We are very thankful to GE Lighting for going above and beyond to create a more comfortable environment for our students who are visually impaired,” said Gerald Kitzhoffer, OSB executive director and CEO. “The new lighting has made such a difference in our classrooms, where we have our youngest students learning to read Braille and use assistive technology.

“And, of course, we thank the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Philadelphia VisionWalk, in particular, for choosing our campus. When we heard that this was going to take place, we were honored and overjoyed.”

“Overbrook School for the Blind has been serving students for more than 180 years, and we are proud to help make their facilities more energy-efficient and bright,” said Andrea Vullo, global community relations manager at GE Lighting. “We hope Overbrook can repurpose the energy savings from the new lighting to continue providing great opportunities for current and future students.”

The overall value of the contribution of energy-efficient GE products and installation was nearly $40,000.

Pam Babin, a Foundation national trustee who has two sons with Stargardt disease, was on hand for the “Light Up” tour and was inspired by what she saw.

“GE Lighting and Vanguard did an excellent job of improving the quality of the experience at the Overbrook School for the Blind,” she said. “While the Foundation’s main mission is to fund the research that will eventually cure blindness due to retinal diseases, we applaud the efforts of OSB to educate and train people who have visual impairments to lead fulfilling lives. And we’re proud that the Foundation can be part of those efforts.”

Pictured, above: students at the Overbrook School for the Blind (OSB) as well as representatives from OSB, Vanguard Building Solutions, GE Lighting and the Foundation Fighting Blindness (including national trustee Pam Babin, second from right) during the "Light Up" event.