Our history

Our History

  • 1938

    Erie Center for the Blind opened its doors.

  • 1940s

    Primary services include eye exams and free eye glasses for low income residents. Richard Wright, Clarence Mack, Walter Yahn, Gus Pulakos, Judge James Dwyer, James McBrier, Mrs. Harry Schaal, Donald Leslie, Fred McBride,I.D. McQuiston and Martin Mageneau were early board members.

  • 1952

    Sheltered workshop opens at East 21st & Holland Streets, where blind people were employed to do piece work for Inland Container Corporation, Erie Brewing Company, Surre and other vendors.

  • 1955–1985

    Added “Reading Radio,” cooking classes, chair caning, Friday night dances, and the Golden Age Club to its programs for blind people.

  • 1961

    $100,000 capital campaign, chaired by Guy B. Wilson and Arthur F. Schultz, funded a new facility at 24th and Cherry Streets.

  • 1963

    Tyco Swick hired as Executive Director.

  • 1967

    Began to administer the Lions Club eye care program for children.

  • 1970s

    Added transportation and other support services for blind people.

  • 1980s

    Focus shifted from blind employment to vision rehabilitation due to the increase of age- and disease-related vision loss.

  • 2001

    The name of the agency was changed to Vision and Blindness Resources.

  • 2007

    Received $2 million bequest from The Anonymous Friend.

  • 2009

    Tyco Swick retired and the board appointed Linda Hackshaw as CEO.

    Changed its name to The Sight Center.

  • 2010

    Conducted a successful $1.35 million Capital Campaign to purchase and renovate its new facility. The newSight Center opened its doors in October.

  • 2011

    Received national accreditation from the National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Impaired (NAC).
    Eyeglass lab opens, enabling us to produce eyewear on-site thanks to Highmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

    The Sight Center organized the 1st Annual Dining in the Dark event.

  • 2014

    Hired an Optometrist and an Occupational Therapist to support Low Vision Clinic and Children’s Programming.

  • 2015

    Added Potter Country, the 7th county in the Center’s service area.

    Launched XSightabilities Sports Program for blind children and teens.

  • 2016

    Through a collaboration with the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), the Sight Center helped organize the Readiness for Employment and Career Happiness (R.E.A.C.H.) program for students with disabilities.

  • 2017

    Launched Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved Diabetes Prevention Program, New View.

    Received a three year accreditation from the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO), which recognizes organizations that adhere to The Standards of Excellence in Nonprofit Ethics and Accountability. Only 50 organizations in the state of Pennsylvania have this distinction, only two in Erie, PA.

  • 2020-2022

    The Sight Center’s “2020 Vision” was abruptly halted by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. After an initial shutdown, the Center was deemed an essential service and leadership transitioned programs with health and wellbeing of the staff and clients as their top priority. We proudly announce that services continued in accordance with safety standards and clients in need were supported.

  • 2023

    The Sight Center begins a celebration of our legacy of love and leadership and 85 years of service to the community as one of the most trusted charities.

Our History