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Blind association's open house to coincide with 'National Day of Choice'

Patrick Varine
| Thursday, April 12, 2018, 9:00 a.m.
Above, a few of the products WCBA employees produce for the U.S. military.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, a few of the products WCBA employees produce for the U.S. military.
Above, the textile shop at the Westmoreland County Blind Association.
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Above, the textile shop at the Westmoreland County Blind Association.

It's difficult to walk 15 feet at the Westmoreland County Blind Association without seeing a smile.

The staff is friendly and nearly all of the 120-plus employees — they provide paper-shredding services, manufacture clothing and bags for the U.S. military and more — joke and chat with Executive Director Tim Miller, who will be a host an April 24 open house at the WCBA facility on South Main Street in Greensburg.

"It'll be a nice representation of what we do here," Miller said.

Now in its 70th year, the WCBA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to "improving productivity, independence and quality of life for sight impaired, intellectually, and physically challenged individuals," according to its website.

The open house will be held on a date that has been chosen as a "National Day of Choice," which emphasizes choice in employment for disabled workers.

Proposed state regulations in 2017 would have limited the amount of time people can spend in pre-vocational facilities, more commonly known as "sheltered workshops." Workshop operators said the guidelines were unrealistic, limited choices for families and clients happy with workshops, and would have forced some facilities to close.

"Last year we went through a lot of crap with the state," Miller said. "People should have a choice in what they want to do."

As a brief tour of the facility made evident, workers at WCBA are enjoying themselves. The open house will give the community a chance to see it as well.

"A lot of times, people will come in and they go a specific department where they're going to work, or where their kids will be working," Miller said. "This will give folks a chance to see the whole operation."

In addition to tours, the open house will include raffle prizes and refreshments.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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