The Raleigh Lion’s Clinic for the Blind was founded by a group of men who were as much thinkers and dreamers as they were pioneers. In 1966, having just completed the new building for the Lions Park, the Raleigh (HOST) Lions Club was looking for a new project to develop. At that time there were three members of the Lion’s club who were officials of the then State Commission for the Blind. Those officials, Grady Galloway, Bill Waters, and, Earl Jennings were interested in establishing a facility to provide evaluation and training services for people who are blind in North Carolina which would enable those individuals who acquire employment in the competitive labor market or in other organizations for people who are blind. At that time the commission was sending its clients out of state to Virginia for those services.
After much consideration, the Raleigh (Host) Lion’s Club agreed to sponsor a non-profit corporation having the objectives specified. The Lion’s Club would provide $14,259 which was felt to be enough money to operate the program for a year. The articles of incorporation were drawn by Frank Dupree along with the other five members of the original board. Russell Broaddus was the executive director.
In January 1967 the corporation rented a 7,000 square foot building on Glenwood Avenue and received its first referral of people who were blind by the North Carolina Commission for the Blind. Raleigh Lion’s Clinic for the Blind management adopted the philosophy of subcontract work and manufacturing as vocational and training media. RLCB Inc. became an associated agency of National Industries for the Blind (NIB). Through this association, RLCB is an authorized Ability One agency with over 75% of our direct labor associates being blind. Once a leader in textile cutting and sewing, RLCB has a long history in producing a wide array of products for the United States military. It soon became evident that the program was outgrowing its rented quarters and the board of directors began looking for a site where a building could be constructed. Under the leadership of Drewry Jones, board president, the corporation applied for and was awarded a federal grant through the North Carolina Commission for the Blind to construct a 48,000 square foot building.
In 1971 the building was occupied and four additional expansions were made, bringing the building to a total of 78,000 square feet, this Hubert Street location was the home of RLCB from 1971 until 2006 when RLCB relocated its operations Bush St to a 237,000 square feet building.
In 2014, RLCB sold its textile sewing operations and redefined ourselves under the leadership of President/CEO Janet Griffey. With a focus on diversifying product lines and entering into the commercial market, RLCBs mission and vision are at work every day at our newest location at 2701 Noblin Road where our focus is on manufacturing, assembly, and warehousing and distribution. Through all this, RLCB has been able to maintain a high level of quality production while, providing real world hands on training for those who are blind and legally blind.
In addition to manufacturing, RLCB also provides hands on training in the retail industry. We currently have seven base supply stores that we use for retail training, as well as an outlet to provide goods to our US Military customers. The seven stores are located in Alaska, Kentucky, Mississippi, Louisiana and here in North Carolina. These base supply stores provide our soldiers with a centralized location to purchase goods such as: office supplies, clothing, and other individual equipment.