Not only has she made an estimated one million clocks, but Rita McCabe has been quoted nationally in The Wall Street Journal
and the Los Angeles Times about her work. McCabe, who is completely blind, is one of the employees on the assembly line at
Lighthouse Industries, a program of The Chicago Lighthouse that holds the official contract for manufacturing clocks for
the U.S. government. Clocks made at the Lighthouse are displayed in federal offices across the country and around the globe.
A native of Minnesota, McCabe first came to the Lighthouse in the mid 1970s while serving as a member of the Salvation Army.
She joined the agency in 1979 and has been employed there ever since.
"I enjoy my job," she says with a smile. "I appreciate being able to support myself, plus have an opportunity to work with
so many wonderful people."
Careful precision is put in place during the assembly process. McCabe assembles the body, movement dial, and the hour and
minute hands of various clocks, and then places the work-in-progress on the assembly line where the remaining components
are put together. The end product is fully tested for accuracy, boxed and shipped to destinations worldwide.
In a given year, the Lighthouse, which will celebrate its 105th anniversary in 2011, manufactures between 160,000 and 200,000
clocks per year. For employees like McCabe, this program has provided steady employment at a time when people who are blind
cope with a near 70 percent jobless rate.
"She is a fantastic member of our team," says Jean Claude Kappler, vice president of Lighthouse Industries. "Like so many of our
employees who are blind or visually impaired, Rita has a strong work ethic and brings a craftsmanship-like quality to her job."
When McCabe leaves the factory for the day, she turns her attention to her other interests, which include volunteer work at her
church and rooting for her favorite teams, the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and her beloved Chicago White Sox.