Alphapointe completes merger with New York City agency that serves people with vision loss

05/14/2014 9:10 PM

05/14/2014 9:10 PM

Alphapointe, a Kansas City-based agency that provides rehabilitation and occupational services for people with vision loss, is extending its reach to New York City.

The nonprofit organization on Wednesday announced the completion of its merger with New York City Industries for the Blind, which is the largest employer of people who are blind or visually impaired in the New York City area.

The New York agency, founded in 1995 and based in Brooklyn, changed its name to Alphapointe on May 1. The merger was announced earlier this year and was formally completed several days ago.

Alphapointe, at 7501 Prospect Ave., was founded here in 1911. It is the largest employer of people who are blind in Missouri and one of the region’s largest resources for people with vision loss.

With the merger, Alphapointe now has more than 400 employees working at nine locations in Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas and now New York, said Reinhard Mabry, president and chief executive of the organization. About 225 of its employees currently work in the Kansas City area.

“We are making a difference” for people who are blind and visually impaired, Mabry said in a statement.

More than 70 percent of legally blind citizens are unemployed, and both Alphapointe and the New York agency have long shared a common goal of reducing that number. By joining forces, Mabry said, the merged organization is “better able to provide more resources, create more jobs and make a lasting, national impact.”

Alphapointe employees work in a variety of businesses, including plastics, micromolding, retail stores and office product manufacturing and sales. For many years, the agency provided manufacturing jobs for people with vision loss, but it has concentrated recently on increasing the availability of white-collar office jobs, said Gina Gowin, an Alphapointe spokeswoman.

For example, Alphapointe purchased a call center several years ago in Warrensburg, Mo., and employees provide services to nonprofit, business, and college and university clients.

The organization also has a partnership with the Kansas City VA Medical Center. Alphapointe employees provide telephone switchboard services, with each employee answering an average of 300 calls per day, according to the organization’s website.

Other Alphapointe employment partnerships are with Omaha Steaks, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Missouri Department of Corrections and the Missouri Department of Social Services.

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