Guide Dogs of America was founded 70 years ago by Joseph Jones, Sr., a retired IAM member.
When Mr. Jones became blind, he considered all his options and decided his mobility needs would best be met by using a guide dog. He applied to all the existing schools, but he was declined because of his “advanced age.” He was only 57 years old.
Mr. Jones was a determined man and “no” was not a word in his vocabulary. He turned to his union—the IAM—for help. The IAM Executive Council conducted extensive research, determined there was a growing need for guide dog services, and in 1948, endorsed the founding of International Guiding Eyes (IGE). The IAM continues to be a generous supporter and staunch advocate of the school’s mission today.
IGE was one of the first guide dog schools to be founded by a blind individual and also one of the first schools to adopt a policy of no upper age discrimination.
In 1992, International Guiding Eyes changed its name to Guide Dogs of America in an effort to communicate more clearly the services provided by the organization.
All of the charity fundraising work that District 190 and our locals do is dedicated to Guide Dogs of America. Since 1985, the District has sponsored a golf tournament each summer and recruits members and employers to enjoy great day of golf, dinner and camaraderie. For the past seven years, the District has also sponsored the Lobster Feed. Over the years, locals have sponsored Hawgs for Dogs motorcycle rides, car shows and other events.
All told, District 190, its Local Unions, employers, staff and members have donated more than $2 million to guide Dogs of America.