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North Central Sight Services reaches out to community

North Central Sight Services Inc. has a clear mission: providing for the vital needs of the blind and visually impaired.

With headquarters at 2121 Reach Road, Williamsport, the agency reaches many people throughout the region.

President and CEO Brian Patchett said the organization is an employer as well as a service provider.

“I think there are lot of people who don’t understand what we do,” he said.

Services to the blind and visually impaired include transportation, assistance with daily tasks, adjustments to conditions, and referrals for various community resources.

There are also the preventative screenings for children and educational programs.

“We work with veterans and help them with technology and employment,” Patchett said.

Overall, the agency reaches out to about 8,000 people per year.

“We provide services for people to stay in the home,” he said. “Being able to stay in an apartment or house is a huge benefit for people.”

A perhaps little-known operation of North Central Sight Services is its shredding business serving counties throughout the region.

With 70 percent of all working-age blind Americans unemployed, the on-site work area providing jobs for the agency’s associates.

This year, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, North Central Sight Services teamed up with Nine Band Brewing Co., Allen, Texas to offer FDA-approved hand sanitizers.

Sales of sanitizers and masks have provided an additional revenue stream for the agency.

“We have been able to sell to school districts,” Patchett said.

Among the newest and most welcome additions to the agency has been the assistive technology lab where an array of state-of-the art devices and programs for the blind and visually impaired are offered.

“There is nothing else like it in the region,” he said.

It includes screen-readers, magnification software, braille displays, mobile technology, optical character recognition systems and more.

“My goal is to get to everyone in this part of Pennsylvania so they can live more independently, Patchett said.

Among the agency’s big challenges is identifying people who need help, he noted.

Marketing and outreach goes a long way toward achieving that goal, and Patchett feels the community and many of its leaders have been supportive of the agency.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges of late has been the coronavirus pandemic.

“We came to this year with specific goals,” he said. “Despite COVID19, we are meeting these goals.”

Funding for programs and services is still another challenge, but Patchett feels the agency is up to the task.

He said he remains optimistic as the North Central Sight Services continues to play its part in serving the community and its client base.

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