Pioneers Awarded for 50 Years of Serving the Visually and Physically Disabled

Pioneers Awarded for 50 Years of Serving the Visually and Physically Disabled

The Pioneers, the world's largest industry-related volunteer organization of telecommunications employees and retirees, continue to live up to their slogan, "Answering the call of those in need". The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) recently awarded the Pioneers with a plaque of recognition to honor 50 years of volunteer service.

The NLS, a branch of the Library of Congress, is dedicated to serving individuals who are unable to read or use standard print materials because of visual or physical handicaps. Through its Talking Book Program, the NLS has provided Braille and talking-book machines to more than 900,000 individuals.

Since 1960, the national Pioneers have helped repair 3.6 million talking-book machines across the country. The Verizon Pioneers efforts equates to $30 million in repairs, and volunteer efforts have helped the NLS to continue to provide the essential tools for everyone to enjoy books.

NLS Director, Frank Kurt Cylke presented the award on May 16 at the 2010 National Conference of Librarians Serving Blind and Physically Handicapped Individuals in Des Moines, Iowa. "The Telecom Pioneers, now known as the Pioneers, have made tremendous contributions to improving the quality of life for people who are blind or physically handicapped," said Cylke. "It is a wondrous service organization and thousands of individuals have contributed through five decades."

Gabe Olah, a Verizon employee and co-chairman of the repair program, accepted the award on behalf of the Pioneers. "This plaque represents 50 years of dedication in not only repairing the talking-book machines, but setting up the systems, inventing tools and more," said Olah. "It represents all those hours of work that Pioneers have put in to improve the quality of life for people they've never met."

The Pioneers will continue their volunteer efforts with the Talking Book Program and repairing and improving talking-books for those who need it across the country.

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