Gladys’ Story

Gladys has confronted the challenges of glaucoma and retinal detachment since her teenage years. While these conditions have limited her vision, they have not hindered her spirit. One of her daily hurdles is maintaining independence, but she remains determined to navigate life on her terms. Introduced to Lions Services by her cousin in 2004, Gladys initially had reservations about her job- sewing. When she began, Lions Services not only encouraged her through her mistakes, but they were patient and assuring, fostering Gladys’ love of sewing.

Lions Services has been instrumental in Gladys’ life, offering her a sense of belonging and family. She appreciates the diverse and compassionate community it provides, emphasizing that it encourages everyone to learn and grow together, regardless of their backgrounds or languages. Gladys views Lions Services as a safe haven for those with vision impairments, where they can learn, feel understood, and find support.

Gladys’ advice? “This is a new chapter in your life. Express how you really feel and don’t hold it in.”

Philip’s Story


Philip, now CEO of Lions Services, did not expect to be where he is today. Born with Optic Nerve Hypoplasia, his eyes could not communicate with his brain, leaving him with a vision impairment so profound that his mom had to leave her job to ensure Philip would not remove his glasses. However, early intervention surgery helped stabilize his eyes, allowing his vision to improve over time. At the age of 16, his vision stopped improving, leaving him legally blind. As a high schooler with no support system, Philip felt isolated and embarrassed. He did not have a place where he could confide with others about the challenges he faced in everyday life, and this continued into college, where he attended Belmont Abbey as the first legally blind student. In his final year of college, he attended 208 interviews, all of which presented challenges or became unavailable once his condition was revealed. It wasn’t until he found Lions Services that, with a little persuasion, Philip landed his first job, changing the course of his life. Starting work “as the administrative assistant” on September 11, 2001, Philip quickly moved up in the company and decided to pursue an MBA, proving his value to a place that gave him a chance.

Taking time to learn every inch of the organization, Philip finally achieved his dream of becoming CEO on June 21, 2021. Philip’s unique perspective on his condition has helped him grow and create a place that brings fulfillment and joy back into people’s lives. Philip believes that the power you give your disability is the power it will have over you. “You have to accept it and start truly living with it [because] blindness is just a label.” As CEO, Philip has helped create a place where blind people can not only maintain their independence through work but also have a community of people to guide and support them along the way. He’s created a safe-haven, giving others what he needed as a young adult, a place where no blind person feels alone. Our agency employs more than 100 blind people and is committed to finding new ways to reduce the 70% unemployment rate suffered by the blind community.

of working age adults who are blind or visually impaired are legally blind.
of workforce is blind or visually impaired.

Thomas’ Story

Thomas’ life took a pivotal turn when glaucoma left him legally blind at 48. Daily challenges, like the unpredictable nature of his condition and difficulties crossing streets, became his new reality. However, he found hope and transformation through Lions Services, where he’s been employed since 2003.

Before discovering Lions Services, Thomas struggled with joblessness and a troubled past. He became frustrated with his life choices and knew he wanted to make a change. Lions Services not only provided him with meaningful employment but also a close-knit family that instilled values of dependability and hard work. This transformation not only helped him stay clean for 22 years but also turned him into a source of encouragement for others. Thomas’s story exemplifies how Lions Services empowers visually impaired individuals to rebuild their lives, find purpose, and become beacons of hope in their communities. Thomas’ advice? “Be patient. Be thoughtful. It won’t go away, so you just have to learn to live with it.”

Wilfred’s Story


Wilfred was born with an astigmatism, creating unique challenges in life. Wilfred finds it challenging at times when his eyes adjust to light, making something as simple as walking outside a disorienting and difficult task. However, when Wilfred found Lions Services in 2017 through his local library, he never anticipated the impact they would have on his life. “Lions Services has helped me become more comfortable with my vision impairment. I’ve never worked with other visually impaired individuals before. Working here really stimulates my brain, and it’s good to be around smart people.” Lions Services has provided a community that feels like home and given him the opportunity to reach his ultimate goal of retiring so he can spend time with his grandbaby. Wilfred’s advice? “Put in an application. It will change your life.”

Lions Services, 100+ Employees are blind or visually impaired, 2023 Upward Mobility, 211 Employees, 22+ Hired blind or visually impaired, 6+ Blind or visually impaired veterans Volunteers and Outreach Employee Statistics 2023 70% of working age adults are unemployed. 16,000 people living in Mecklenburg County with vision loss. Blind or visually impaired who were promoted to Administrative positions or held Executive positions
Volunteers and Outreach, Our dedicated group of volunteers contribute their time to help complete many tasks around our facility. Just a few hours of your time means so much to those we serve. 80 Volunteers contributed 254 hours 211 Employees are blind or visually impaired 100+ Launched 2 new products in 2023, the Lions Clean Foaming Hand Soap and the Molle 4000 Rucksack that will result in 50 additional jobs being created during the next 12 months that will contribute to long-term sustainability

Impact Quotes

I had never kept a job for more than 3 years. Now I’ve been here 15 years, and I love to come to work!


Did you know that being visually impaired does not equal being unable to drive? CEO Philip Murph explained that in NC, there is a waiver that allows qualifying visually impaired people to drive in daylight, on secondary roads, and under 45 mph.

We employ people that are blind and give them opportunities, and they’re giving back to the society through the taxes they pay, the items they purchase, and the items they make for the military. We are giving back to a community who has turned their backs on us every day.

Philip Murph

Becoming blind forces, you to do things from memory rather than sight. For Marlon, he hangs outfits together and keeps his drawers and cabinets organized so that he knows where everything stays, helping him accomplish his daily tasks independently.

Working at Lions means being blind isn’t the primary topic of conversation. Because everyone is in a similar situation, Marlon explains that “it’s like going to work with a bunch of normal people. We talk about everything, but no one really focuses on the blind aspect.”

Losing your sight and being born blind can feel very different. Although both share the same challenges of being blind, one understands the gravity of what they’ve lost, which is often devastating. It takes time for those who lost their vision to adjust to their new life because they’re having to relearn something they’ve already known.