(Originally published in This is Queensborough Business News from the Queens Chamber of Commerce on November 14, 2018)
BY ANTHONY LUISI
It was a massive and ambitious goal: uprooting a complex operation, relocating gargantuan machines, restoring
a severely dilapidated property, and acclimating a workforce largely comprised of legally blind employees to new
Success would mean survival and a chance for substantial growth for one of New York City’s only – and by far its largest – organizations committed to providing employment and greater independence to those with vision loss. Failure was not an option, as it would leave more than 200 people without a place to work.
Formerly New York City Industries for the Blind, Alphapointe New York is a nonprofit that provides jobs and job placement for individuals who are blind and visually impaired, as well as needed products and services to businesses around the corner and across the globe.
Having operated out of rented space in Brooklyn since 1995, last year the company purchased a property in Richmond Hill and announced plans to relocate there by the end of 2018.
Since then, we’ve undertaken extensive renovations to the 138,000-square-foot, 19-building complex, move done or more departments there at a time, and have kept our operations flowing smoothly all the while. We have painted walls, upgraded electrical, water and sewer systems and replaced the roofs over our heads. We’ve cleared and cleaned internal spaces to make room for supplies, massive racks in our warehouse and our machines that make mops and brooms.
We’ve also added a high-tech navigational system that guides our blind and visually impaired personnel safely around our facility, using strategically placed beacons and an app on their phones.
We’ve even cleaned up exterior features of the property, making them safer and more accessible for vehicles and people and more aesthetically pleasing to our neighbors and passersby.
Today, all departments and more than 130 legally blind, as well as another 90 or so typically sighted employees, have settled into our new home. We’re officially open for business in Richmond Hill.
What this means for these individuals and others we hope to hire is a regular, reliable income, an opportunity to interact with others who understand the challenges they’re facing, and access to new skills and the positions that need them – in short, a more fulfilled life.
What it means for organizations throughout New York is a reliable source of products and services: Alphapointe manufactures and sells some 1 million janitorial and office products per year, produces uniforms and critical medical materials for the military, completes assembly, contract sewing and other projects for military,government, municipal and general business clients, provides warehouse space and fulfillment services, handles inbound and outbound call center tasks, and more.
We invite you to come see what we do and give us an opportunity to earn your business.
But the efforts to make our Richmond Hill home the hub we’ve envisioned are far from complete. We still have
plans for a beautiful entrance and reception area to welcome visitors and personnel, a sensory garden offering a quiet midday respite, and renovations to our cafeteria to make it a space equally well-equipped to accommodate everyday dining and special events.
These will be tackled as we raise the funds needed to accomplish them, which means opportunities abound to
add your name to our facility.
When renovations are complete, we’ll have taken a rundown property and converted it into the premier campus in the New York metropolitan area devoted to workforce development for people with disabilities.
We’ll also have brought business to local stores and restaurants, banks, transportation providers, electricians, plumbers, HVAC companies and more. We’re proud to be supporting Queens.
In turn, we hope to be embraced and supported by our new community. That starts with simply being mindful
and patient as several hundred individuals with vision issues make their way here via public transportation, on foot or via service vehicle each day.
But it might also include making a charitable contribution to our cause, collaborating on a fundraiser, shopping our catalog of products, discussing how we can help you succeed in your operations, and spreading the word that a great new resource has come to Queens.
Nearly 70 percent of people who have vision loss are unemployed, and we’re tamping down that statistic by giving them jobs, placing them in other companies and encouraging more organizations to patronize businesses that support them.
Thank you for welcoming us. Let’s get to work.
Anthony Luisi is director of Development for Alphapointe New York. For more information, call (929) 499-3668, email email@example.com, or visit alphapointe.org.