This year the winner is Eric Isbister, a man with not only that impressive resume but a caring heart and well-traveled shoes that have carried him across Milwaukee and around the world. Eric serves on the board of Beyond Vision, a nonprofit with the mission to empower people who are visually impaired with employment. The organization fights the statistic that seventy percent of people who are blind are unemployed.
Eric knows firsthand that people who are visually impaired want to work. “To be able to put my shoulder to that wheel and try to help is an honor,” says Eric. Eric firmly believes in the mission of Beyond Vision, which is to help people who are blind through the dignity of work.
“Eric stands out as a leader among our Board of Directors,” says CEO and President of Beyond Vision Jim Kerlin. “He is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to introduce a potential new customer, donor, or other community influencer to us.”
When Beyond Vision was looking for its current CEO, Eric stepped up on an interim basis while simultaneously running his own business. Over and over again, Eric demonstrates his commitment and passion to Beyond Vision, while also reaching out to the community in other ways.
At their invitation, 1700 young people have toured GenMet, the manufacturing business Eric owns with wife. “We bring them in all the time because someone needs to show kids what a manufacturing job can be,” explains Eric.
Eric created a brand called “Making Stuff is Cool” and recently partnered with pre-engineering students at Port Washington High School in a project to make a lapel pin with those words on it. Eric saw this as an opportunity to engage students in real world, leading technology in engineering. He gives out t-shirts and now this pin to the students that tour his 60 employee company.
Eric also serves with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, most notably on a committee that selects scholarships for youth in the City of Milwaukee. He proudly notes that this scholarship not only awards needed funds for higher education, but also a mentor that follows the young person throughout their college career.
He recently traveled to Bangladesh where he sterilized medical instruments for three surgeons changing not only the faces but the lives of children with cleft lip. Next he’s going to Guatemala with Engineers without Borders to to work on water systems.
Eric sees volunteer experiences as something more than an exchange of services. “Most of the opportunities I’ve gotten to do things I feel like someone’s giving me a highway to be able to do something that needs to be done,” Eric explains. With this ideology, Eric challenges us all to look around at community and global initiatives not just as needs to be filled, but opportunities to act with our own individual talents. “There are these conduits, these highways, that enable people that can do things to do things.”
What can you do? And how will you do it?
Join us in honoring all of the Inspire By Example award recipients at the 34th Annual Volunteer Celebration April 7, 2016, 11:30 AM - 01:00 PM CT at the Italian Community Center, 631 E. Chicago Street. Milwaukee, WI 53202. Click here to register online.