Meridian Satellite Facility

Last week, Roy Granger (the Deputy Director of Operations at MIB), Connie Souto-Leerman (the MIB HR Director), and I, Kelsey Marx (AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer with the foundation) took the opportunity to visit the Mississippi Industries for the Blind satellite manufacturing plant in Meridian, MS.  We left the MIB Jackson location early Wednesday morning to drive to Meridian for the day.  Having never visited before, I was able to learn a lot about MIB Meridian while taking a tour of the facility with Lewis, the plant manager.

Greg Sylvest, MIB Meridian’s legally blind welder & 2011 MIB Employee of The Year, works on crowbars for the United States Postal Service

As I did, you may also find it interesting that MIB Meridian is one of the only facilities in the United States who employees visually impaired individuals to work on metal products (i.e. welding).  The array of products and organizations to whom they sell them are vast, and the quality of production is impressive.  Upon walking around and seeing the visually impaired employees weld crowbars and produce replacement keys for the U.S. Postal Service, I was astounded; not only were they making products within a very precise process for large and renowned government entities such as the USPS, but they were doing so without being able to see.  And they have been making said products at a rate of about 4 million per year for the past 20 years.  A difficult job even for someone with sight.

Finished crowbars, painted yellow, ready to be shipped to the USPS.
The USPS replacement keys have been made at MIB Meridian since the early 1980s.
Here, a visually impaired employee arranges the newly made keys for the next step in the line of production.

 Continuing down the line, I also learned that MIB Meridian makes Aluminum card label holders to be used on U.S. Navy vessels. And sponges for large companies in Califormia.  And some of the best jumper cables money can buy–made from pure copper wires & clamps and followed up with 100% continuity tests.  MIB Meridian has also been credited by the U.S. government for their changes to the efficiency in production of this type of jumper cables.

Bobby, another visually impaired employee at MIB Meridian, stacks the Aluminum card label holders before sending them to the end of the production line.

At the end of our visit, I couldn’t help but feel renewed in purpose and drive.  I’ve seen MIB Jackson and all of the great things that it does, but seeing it again and in a new place was further validation of the work that we strive to do.  Mississippi Industries for the Blind provides jobs to Mississippians with visual impairments.  And the MIB Foundation for the Blind & Visually Impaired proudly supports that challenge.  And that’s a big deal.

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