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Beep Baseball creates accessible sport opportunity for youth with vision loss

Youth and family member at Beep Baseball.

Great segment by Sarah McGrew TMJ4 of our #BeepBaseball event. We appreciate the support in creating awareness of fun and accessible opportunities for youth with visual impairments.  Link to TMJ4 coverage

Beep Baseball event creates possibilities for youth with visual impairments

Volunteer working with youth on batting.

Thank you Amanda Becker from CBS 58 for all your time and interest in our #BeepBaseball event. This is an awesome collaboration with Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE)‘s Men’s Baseball team that creates inclusive opportunities for kids with visual impairments to learn how to play baseball. It was a great morning filled with fun and smiles all around!  Here’s a link to the CBS 58 segment.

Member news

Pat playing the piano.

We are saddened to share the news of Patricia Keating’s recent passing.  Providing support and services for people with vision loss motivated Patricia (Pat) Keating to be a long time supporter of Vision Forward Association. As a member and volunteer of Vision Forward Association for 50 years, Pat had stated in an interview in 2015, “It’s my hope that there will always be a supportive organization for people living with vision loss because it’s a good organization and it has meant a lot to me throughout my life.”

Pat, the oldest of 12 children, was born blind. She came to Milwaukee from the small town of Thorpe, in central Wisconsin, in 1968 looking for better employment
opportunities and secured a 20-year career with the IRS.  Pat was happy to discover the Badger Association of the Blind and the affordable, safe living options it offered.
She especially enjoyed the social activities and supportive services the organization offered for people who were blind or visually impaired.

Pat will be missed by many who will remember her as a thoughtful, kind friend.

Here is a link to Pat’s obituary https://www.beckerritter.com/tributes/Patricia-Keating.

Vision Forward welcomes new members to the board of directors

Vision Forward Association is proud to welcome the following members to their Board of Directors: Guillermo Baena, Milwaukee Youth Symphony; Dr. Michael Dante, Marquette University; Crocker Stephenson, Retired Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; Nicholas H. Tosi, M.D., Retina & Vitreous Consultants of WI; and Sonja Williams, Wellpoint Care Network.

Guillermo Baena, Philanthropy Officer, Milwaukee Youth Symphony

Photo of GuillermoGuillermo holds a degree in economics and a graduate certification as a life coach. Legally blind since birth, Guillermo loves to share his story, acting as a keynote and motivational speaker on different occasions.

“I was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa as a young child, and all my journey has been a process of adapting and rebuilding activities. I genuinely believe in Vision Forward’s mission since it is about teaching people to live an independent and productive life without sight,” states Guillermo.Guillermo lives an active lifestyle that has led him to engage in rock-climbing, downhill skiing, martial arts, and cycling. He has even acquired his scuba diving license and completed a certification to become a professional skydiver, having jumped solo at 10,000 feet.

With a unique blend of professional experience in economics mainly focused on business consulting and strategic planning in the corporate arena, and with a passion for helping others, he successfully transitioned into the nonprofit world.

Having played various roles in the community, Guillermo recently served as a board member at the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra before joining them as a staff member. He also has volunteered for the Lighthouse of Broward, Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Foundation Fighting Blindness, and the National Eye Institute, among many others.

Michael Dante, PhD, Marquette University

Photo of MichaelDr. Michael Dante’s motto is living life to the fullest, “There’s a certain zeal in the way that I live – with gusto, and I just savor the time that I do have with such gratitude of what I have been given, not that everything is always easy.” 

One challenge he speaks very openly about is his vision impairments, which he acknowledges primarily for its gifts.  Michael says of his vision loss, “It allows me to see beyond what the eye might see in terms of potential and to see with the eyes of the heart.”

Michael began his relationship with Vision Forward as a client when moving to Milwaukee in 2012. He received mobility and technology training.  He also participates in a monthly conversation group that explores the challenges and experiences of vision loss.  When speaking about his appointment to the Board of Directors, Michael said, “I am very humbled to take on this position.  So many people have supported me along my journey. This role offers me a chance to support others in kind and the opportunity to use my ‘inner-eye’ to further Vision Forward’s mission.”

Since 2012, Michael has worked as the director of Marquette University’s Faber Center for Ignatian Spirituality.  Through retreats, book discussions, and seminars, his center fosters the spiritual growth of the faculty and staff and helps them understand the key principles of the Jesuit heritage.  Before joining Marquette, Michael taught in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University in New York.  Prior to transitioning into his new career of ministry and teaching, he was a mathematician in Washington D.C.. He performed program management, funds execution, and budget analysis on U.S. Space Programs for Senior Government officials.

Michael earned a Doctorate in Spirituality from The Catholic University of America, a Master’s of Divinity from the Washington Theological Union, and a Bachelors in Science from Johns Hopkins University, among others. He is excited to use his education, experiences, and gifts to further Vision Forward’s efforts. 

Crocker Stephenson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Photo of CrockerRecently retired, Crocker worked as a journalist for over 30 years covering urban affairs and city government for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Throughout his career he covered crime, public health and an array of feature stories for the newspaper. He was sent to New York City in the aftermath of 9/11 and to Kosovo to cover the war in the late 1990s. His hallmark is writing with rich description and revealing detail.

Crocker has won many awards for his work, but the most meaningful to him are the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism, which he won three times, and the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine Keck Communication Award for Empty Cradles, his 2011 series on infant mortality.

Crocker began losing his vision about five years ago. “It was sudden and dramatic — a retinal disorder not unlike macular degeneration.” Adaptive technology, mobility techniques, and other adaptive strategies he discovered at Vision Forward helped him adjust and continue working until his recent retirement.

When asked about his involvement as a board member for Vision Forward, Crocker states, “What a great opportunity to give back to an organization that, at a very difficult point in my life, taught me so much and gave me something I was not expecting: Hope.”

Nicholas H. Tosi, M.D., Retina & Vitreous Consultants of WI

Photo of Dr. TosiDr. Tosi has been a retina specialist at Retina and Vitreous Consultants of Wisconsin since 2015, and currently is a partner and serving as Vice President of the organization. 

Prior to coming to the Milwaukee area, he completed a traditional ophthalmology residency at LSU/Ochsner Hospitals in New Orleans and a two-year retina fellowship at UAB in Birmingham, where he developed a passion for retina surgery.  In addition to a clinic-based practice which focuses on medically managed diseases (such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy), Dr. Tosi performs vitreo-retinal surgery weekly and after hours for emergency retina procedures (such as retinal detachment and trauma).   

As a practicing retina specialist in SE Wisconsin, Dr. Tosi is familiar with Vision Forward’s mission of helping serve patients with low vision needs.  “I tell my patients that my obligation and goal is to help them maximize their full visual potential through medical and surgical avenues.  Similarly, Vision Forward seeks to optimize patients’ vision potential, but through hands-on occupational therapy and education.”  Dr. Tosi hopes this overlap of clinical practice with Vision Forward will create synergistic value for the organization, while also providing an educational experience for himself.

Sonja Williams, Wellpoint Care Network

Photo of SonjaSonja Williams is an accomplished people leader with nearly 25 years of talent optimization and organizational development experience. Driven by a desire to support the work of community-based organizations with compelling missions, she has performed impactful work in community-focused and educational organizations over the course of her career.

Sonja is currently employed as the Vice President (VP) of Human Resources at Wellpoint Care Network (formerly SaintA) – a national leader in trauma-informed care that serves and helps nearly 5000 children, youth, and adults build life skills and navigate systems of care in Southeastern Wisconsin. Prior to this role, she has held Human Resources positions seeking to improve the social, health, and economic outcomes for marginalized groups.

Sonja has a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater and a Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. She is also a nationally certified Human Resources professional, and a 16-year member of the Society of Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) local chapter.

In addition to her role on Vision Forward’s Board of Directors, Sonja currently serves on the boards of Lutheran Home & Harwood Place and Triangle of Hope, Inc.  She is also actively engaged in the Christian community through her church membership at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

“The Vision Forward mission statement resonates with me because I feel strongly that community-based education and advocacy can reduce the disparities in health, access, and opportunity experienced by the visually impaired.” commented Sonja.  “Glaucoma has impacted my family and I too am at risk and would like to raise awareness within the African American community about eye health as well as help to remove barriers that prevent people of color and others from benefiting from advances being made in the vision community.”

Safe Winter Travel Tips

During winter months, pedestrians with visual impairments are affected by increased difficulty in keeping a line of direction on sidewalks, establishing and maintaining orientation, and especially negotiating street crossings safely.

Following these 10 easy and practical tips can make winter travel easier and safer for everyone:

  1. Tell someone when you’re leaving, where you’re going and when you plan to return.
  2. Know the forecasted weather conditions for your entire trip. Stay up to date by listening to the radio, TV, or going online.
  3. Carry a cell phone with a charged battery in case of emergencies.
  4. Always consider the wind chill factor when planning to travel during the colder months and dress appropriately. The cold can be distracting when using orientation and mobility skills, so it is important to dress in layers with wind barriers.
  5. Winter days are short. Wear reflective safety clothing so you’ll be seen when it gets dark out.
  6. Don’t wear hats that cover your ears because they can reduce auditory information.
  7. Use a mobility mitten instead of gloves to improve tactile information your white cane provides.
  8. Protect your feet from the cold by wearing water resistant shoes or boots with good, but not overly thick, tread.
  9. Always have a back up plan – Consider taking a bus rather than walking if frigid temperatures prevail.
  10. Cabs, Uber or Lyft make good alternatives to successfully travel in the winter when sidewalks or bus stops are not accessible.

Public Hearing Set for January 11 on Statewide Vision Service Registry

Contact Your State Representative and Ask Them to Support AB 490!

The Wisconsin State Assembly’s Committee on Health is holding a public hearing on January 11 on Assembly Bill 490, which would create a registry for children who are diagnosed with blindness or a visual impairment.  The registry will help connect families to agencies like Vision Forward and providers that are equipped to meet the unique needs of children who are blind or visually impaired.

Vision Forward is in strong support of the bill and will testify at the public hearing on January 11.

HOW YOU CAN HELP! 

Action Item #1–Let us Know If You Want to Speak at or Attend the Public Hearing:  We are looking for stakeholders who would be willing to testify at the upcoming hearing on January 11.  It will be helpful to share stories from families of children who would have been better served if the registry existed or from professionals who worked with children who were disadvantaged because as young children they were not connected with services early.  If you are interested in participating in the public hearing, please contact Jacci Borchardt, Director of Operations, 414-615-0121 or jborchardt@vision-forward.org.

Action Item #2 Email Your State Representative and Ask for Their Support of the Bill: E-mail your State Representative and ask for their support of AB 490. If you get a response from your lawmaker, please let us know.

Draft Email For You to Customize and Send to Your State Representative

Dear [Representative XXXXX]:

I live in [insert your city or town so the lawmaker knows you are a constituent], and I am a [insert affiliation–i.e. parent of a child who is visually impaired, vision service provider, Vision Forward Board member, etc.] I am writing to ask for your support of Assembly Bill 490, which would create a registry for children who are blind or visually impaired. The registry will help connect families to agencies and providers that are specifically trained to meet the unique needs of these children. Participation in the registry is voluntary and would be up to the child’s parents.

As much as 90% of what children learn in the first three years of life is acquired visually. Without proper support, children who are blind or visually impaired can experience dramatic developmental delays.

[provide details about your connection to this issue and why you believe a registry is needed. If you are a parent, you can talk about how you would have benefitted from registry and your experience accessing vision services without one. If you are a vision services provider, you can talk about the importance of your job and provide examples of why it is so important for children who are blind or visually impaired to get connected to you.].

I would appreciate your support of Assembly Bill 490.

Sincerely,
[Name and Address]

How to Contact Your Legislators:

The first step in contacting your legislator is knowing who your legislator is. The easiest way to do this is the tool found on the Legislature’s home page, at http://legis.wisconsin.gov. In the right-hand side of that page is a link that says Find My Legislators!  Type your address in the box below that link to get the names of your state representative and senator.

Phone: You may leave a message for your legislator’s Capitol office or indicate your position on legislation through the toll free Legislative Hotline, at 1-800-362-9472.

E-mail: The e-mail addresses of members of the Wisconsin Legislature all have the same format. For members of the Assembly, the form is Rep.Jones@legis.wisconsin.gov; for members of the Senate, the form is Sen.Adams@legis.wisconsin.gov.

Vision Forward’s Dining in the Dark featured on the Steve Scaffidi show

Photo of guests at past Dining in the Dark event.

Thank you to guests Steve Scaffidi and Carole Caine for your recent interview with Terri Davis, Vision Forward CEO.  The segment was a great opportunity to increase awareness of vision loss, the help that is available, our upcoming Dining in the Dark event, and how the community can help support our mission.  Just scroll down the list of shows to October 25, 2021.

Steve Scaffidi

Annual sensory experience to raise awareness of blindness and visual impairment 

Contact: Dena Fellows, Marketing Director, Vision Forward Association
414‐615‐0134 • dfellows@vision‐forward.org

October 22, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

DINING IN THE DARK OFFERS AN EXPERIENCE OF BLINDNESS
Vision Forward hosts its 13th annual sensory experience to raise awareness of blindness and visual impairment 

Milwaukee, Wis. – Dining in the Dark, a fundraising event in which guests are guided through a journey into the world of vision loss with a blindfolded dining experience, will take place Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Italian Community Center.

Vision Forward, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization devoted to empowering, educating and enhancing the lives of individuals impacted by vision loss, invites members of the community to attend the event.

Dining in the Dark is a unique and unforgettable experience. Through a four-course meal eaten under blindfold, guests take a journey into the world of vision loss, discovering a deeper understanding and awareness of what people who are blind or visually impaired face.

“Dining in the Dark provides the opportunity for us to experience life from a different perspective – the perspective of living with vision loss,” said Terri Davis, chief executive officer of Vision Forward. “The experience will affect each of us differently. For some, you may find eating your meal more challenging. For others, it may be talking with others at your table to be more difficult. Our hope is that you will all come away from this event with a deeper understanding of not only the obstacles that vision loss presents to each unique individual, but the positive affirmations that can be realized along the way.”

Brittney Hodson will be the event’s dinner speaker. A credit services and call center representative at Kwik Trip Inc., Brittney will share her story of sudden vision loss and the impact it has had on her life as a mother, wife and employee.

“As the only organization providing comprehensive vision loss support and programs for people of all ages in Wisconsin, Vision Forward needs the support of the community to serve its clients,” Terri Davis said. “The Dining in the Dark dinner serves two main purposes. It is a critical fundraiser to support our mission, and it raises awareness among the public for the valuable contributions that people with vision loss contribute to our community every day.”

The emcee of the event will be WISN-Channel 12 News Anchor Toya Washington. A delicious dinner will be provided by Bartolotta Catering & Events.

To learn more about Dining in the Dark, visit www.vision-foward.org/dining-in-the-dark.

The growing list of corporate and community sponsors supporting Dining in the Dark includes: ibvi; Beyond Vision; DentaQuest; Brett and Kathy Bostrack; Johnson Financial Group; Rick and Lisa Roszkowski; Dr. Deborah and Jeffrey Costakos; Paul and Dave Strelitz; Hiller Ford; O’Leary and Anick; PNC Bank; SVA Certified Public Accountants; Milwaukee Eye Care; HR Sherpaz; First Business Bank; Kwik Trip; Air Technology Services; Ernst & Young; Mitchell J. Marks CPA LLC; R&R Insurance Services Inc; Terri and Michael Davis; CureMD; Cindy and Roger Schaus; Healthfuse; Bill Radonski; Retina and Vitreous Consultants of Wisconsin; WISN-Channel 12; and Steve Jagler Executive Branding LLC.

For context, the numbers surrounding vision loss are unsettling:

  • Every seven minutes, someone in the U.S. permanently loses his or her vision; there are an estimated 314 million visually impaired people worldwide.
  • As many as 200,000 people in Wisconsin are blind or visually impaired, and by 2030, the number of Americans affected by age‐related blindness is expected to double.
  • Vision Forward is the only organization providing comprehensive vision loss support and rehabilitation for infants, children, adults and seniors of all ages in Wisconsin.

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National Fall Prevention Week

Join Hands with Vision Forward this National Fall Prevention Week

Impaired vision, low vision, and other similar symptoms are just a few factors that contribute to the risk of falls. Altogether, vision problems are one of the biggest reasons of fall injuries.

As we age, we may experience certain changes to our vision, such as a decrease in our visual acuity, an increase in our sensitivity to glare and sunlight, a decrease in our sensitivity to contrast, and difficulty adjusting to changes in light. These changes can make it difficult to see where we are going and put us at the risk of falling.

We may also experience eye diseases that can increase our risk of falls, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts, or diabetic retinopathy – which can create blind spots, limit our visual fields or make things look blurry overall.

As per the report – Guidelines for Optometrists to Help Prevent Falls in Older Adults, some predictable risk factors are increasing age, being female, gait or imbalance impairment, chronic health conditions such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, or arthritis, being on multiple medications, sedative usage, and having any kind of vision impairment.

The report also lists some external or exterior factors such as poor lighting, trip hazards like rugs, inappropriate footwear, stairs without handrails, uneven floors, and poorly designed bathrooms.

Falls due to vision loss can be avoided by taking a few precautions like:

  • Staying physically active: Adopt an exercise plan that is right for you. Regular exercise keeps your muscles stronger. It also helps keep your joints, tendons, and ligaments flexible. Mild to medium weight lifting activities like walking or climbing stairs keep you safe from osteoporosis.
  • Visiting a physician regularly for your eyes and hearing abilities: The smallest changes in sight and hearing might cause a fall. Always use your glasses or contact lenses when you feel the need. If you use a hearing aid, make sure it fits well.
  • Checking for the side effects of any medicines: If a drug causes sleepiness or dizziness, visit your physician immediately.
  • Getting enough sleep: If you often feel sleepy, you are more likely to experience falls.
  • Watching your alcohol intake: Even smaller amounts of alcohol may affect your balance. Research shows that the chances of hip fractures are more in older adults when alcohol is involved.
  • Standing up slow: Getting up and moving quickly may cause your blood pressure to drop. Lowered blood pressure may make you feel wobbly.
  • Being careful when walking on slippery and wet surfaces: They can be very dangerous!

Always consult your doctor if you have experienced any of the above symptoms since your last checkup, even if you haven’t fallen. Mild to medium symptoms of falls can alert your doctor to a new medical problem with your medications or eyesight that needs immediate attention.

If you experience an eye disease, consider a low vision evaluation at Vision Forward’s Low Vision Services to learn ways to maximize your vision and limit your fall risk through glare reduction and contrast enhancement strategies, lighting recommendations, optical solutions, and more.

Visit this link to contact our experts at Vision Forward for more information on setting up an appointment: Low Vision Services – Vision Forward (vision-forward.org)

The Center for Disease Control recommends an annual, dilated eye exam to reduce the risk of irreversible vision loss and make sure eyeglasses are updated as needed. For more information on the CDC’s guidelines for maintaining healthy eyes, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/visionhealth/risk/tips.htm or https://www.cdc.gov/steadi/.

The Milwaukee County Falls Prevention Coalition (MCFPC) addresses the adult community’s risk of falling by providing access to comprehensive programs and targeted interventions. The coalition creates links between community programs and services to enhance collaborative efforts. For more information, visit: www.mcfpc.net.

Thank you for your support in the Trexo Robotic gait trainer contest

Trexo Plus Givaway and image of the Trexo

Thank you to all who voted for Vision Forward in the contest to win a Trexo Robotic gait trainer!

Even though Vision Forward did not win the Trexo Robotic gail trainer, we were inspired by all who voted for our organization!  Thank you to everyone who voted for us, shared our messages and helped to create so much awareness of our mission and of the opportunities this type of equipment has for children with vision loss!  We are grateful for your support!

Vision Forward JCC Rainbow Day Camp offers new experiences for kids

Photo of young girl and volunteer at camp.

Vision Forward in collaboration with Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center hosted Rainbow Day Camp July 19-22, for students ages 5 to 18 who are blind or visually impaired.  All sports were adapted specifically for youth with vision loss so they can have equal opportunities to participate in swimming, kayaking, beep baseball, goalball, fishing and a variety of other recreation and wellness activities.

Fox 6 segment of the youth summer camp

Colleen Kickbush honored with special award

Photo of Colleen Kickbush working with a child on a brailler.

Colleen Kickbush, Vision Forward Teacher of the Visually Impaired, recently received the WAER, (Wisconsin Association for the Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired) Special Award for her commitment, expertise and advocacy work for early intervention services for children who are blind or visually impaired.

Colleen has demonstrated a passion for ensuring babies and toddlers with vision loss have access to quality, skilled vision services.  She has sought out additional training and education to increase her skill set and is one of only a handful of Wisconsin vision teachers currently pursuing the Illinois State Early Intervention Sensory Disability Developmental Therapist program.  Colleen is also committed to sharing her knowledge and expertise with others.  She is an active and invaluable member of the interdisciplinary team at Vision Forward, but also plays an important role supporting Birth to 3 providers across our state.  In addition, Colleen has conducted countless presentations about vision loss and appropriate interventions to a wide array of audiences – including medical providers from Children’s and UW hospital, early interventionists, other vision teachers and parents.

Colleen has also been instrumental in our agency’s efforts to advocate for critical early intervention services for young children who are blind or visually impaired.  Her insight has helped to guide our efforts in outreach and education to elected officials and other key stakeholders.  Colleen has also brought the Babies Count registry program to Wisconsin.  This new registry will be essential in collecting objective data about the infants and toddlers in our state with vision loss and will help to better tell the story about why early intervention vision services are so essential.

The team at Vision Forward congratulates Colleen for this well- deserved recognition!   Her commitment, energy and love for her work are evident every day.

Catholic Community Foundation funds vision rehabilitation therapy programs

May 6, 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 

Vision Forward has been awarded a $15,000 grant from The Catholic Community Foundation for Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Programs 

Vision Forward’s Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Programs include low vision, music, occupational, physical and speech-language therapy for young children, youth and adults of all ages who have varying degrees of vision loss. Each therapy has a specific purpose, and the therapies are often used together for maximum effectiveness in helping individuals manage everyday life with vision loss.

“Our partnership with The Catholic Community Foundation ensures that people who are blind or visually impaired can access critical therapy services that help them adapt to vision loss, achieve developmental milestones and discover new ways to participate in the activities of everyday life,” states Terri Davis, Vision Forward’s Chief Executive Officer.

The Catholic Community Foundation’s generous support of Vision Rehabilitation Therapy Programs allows individuals of all ages and at all stages of vision loss to have meaningful opportunities to be vital, contributing members of our society.

About Vision Forward
Vision Forward’s mission is to empower, educate and enhance the lives of individuals impacted by vision loss through all of life’s transitions.  Programs are designed to help people of all ages and at all stages of vision loss discover new ways of accomplishing everyday tasks and to manage the changes in their vision at every transition in life.  All  services are provided regardless of a person’s or family’s ability to pay. For more information about our mission, please visit www.vision-forward.org.

About the Catholic Community Foundation
The Catholic Community Foundation is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation independent of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The Foundation, which has been in operation since 2001, focuses on four priority areas: education; leadership development; health care for the under-served in Milwaukee; and community-building to strengthen families, parishes and those suffering from poverty, discrimination, and violence. For more information about the Foundation, please visit: http://thecatholiccommunityfoundation.org/.

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More than Meets the Eye

Four-year-old Andre is learning to navigate the world, despite the visual, physical and communication challenges imposed on him by Cortical Vision Impairment (CVI) and Cerebral Palsy (CP). And we’re so proud to share his progress!

Click on the video above to hear our April More than Meets the Eye.  During this 20-minute session, Andre’s mom Terri will share details of her son’s journey. In addition, Kyla Murphy, one of our Speech-Language Pathologists, will discuss the holistic team approach to treating Andre and the growth that has resulted.

every small step of Andre’s progress is integral to his overall ability to live with both Cortical Visual Impairment and Cerebral Palsy. Making sure that he and all children living with vision loss have access to early intervention services is so very critical. These services help ensure that kids can achieve the important developmental milestones that set them on course for future school and life success.

It’s a big reason that Vision Forward exists. We know that addressing vision loss early in life is key to helping kids learn and grow, so we continue to offer a full menu of services that address every area of a child’s development. Through individualized treatment plans with a holistic approach, we can increase the chances of success for young children with vision loss.

It takes more than $3 million a year to serve everyone who comes to Vision Forward for help. After program fees and other revenue sources, we’re left with an annual shortfall of about $1.2 million. Because we never want money to be a barrier to receiving vital services, we continue to fundraise throughout the year to ensure that children and adults can access the help they need, regardless of their ability to pay.

As we move forward into our new fiscal year and away from some of the challenges of the past year—masks, social distancing, constant sanitization—we invite you to come see our Children’s Program in action. Come be inspired by Andre and the other kids enrolled as well as our staff and find out firsthand why our unique program is worthy of your support. A well-functioning child is a huge return on investment, so come be part of our mission!

National Volunteer Week

Collage of Vision Forward volunteers

National Volunteer Week (April 18 – 24) is an annual celebration and opportunity for organizations around the world to recognize volunteers and the impact of their service. On behalf of all of us at Vision Forward, we thank all our volunteers from the bottom of our hearts for their selfless dedication in helping us achieve our mission of providing programs and services to people of all ages with vision loss.

Over the years, we have been fortunate to have the support of more than 100 community volunteers, board members, committee members and corporate partners. From assisting teachers in our children’s program, participating in committee meetings, leading recreational activities, and helping with remote projects, we appreciate all of their time and support.

DSHA students give back to Vision Forward

Photo of four students holding a bulletin board

Thank you to the students at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School who chose to volunteer at Vision Forward during your Vocare (service immersion experience) week.  We are so grateful for your time and help updating our volunteer board, making tactile greeting cards for our members, cleaning toys, and helping us get organized!  We wish all the graduating seniors this spring the best of luck!

Discussion about vision loss on the OWL program

Thank you to Amy Schmutte, host of and program director of the OWL (Older.Wiser.Local) segment on Riverwest Radio WXRW (104.1 in Milwaukee), for recently talking with Terri Davis, Vision Forward’s Executive Director on the topic of vision loss.  The OWL segment is an older-adult community-service program brought to our community by the Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts and Bader Philanthropies.  We were honored to have this opportunity to create awareness of vision loss in older adults and the services that are available to help make life easier.

owl-older-wiser-local [0097] Terry Davis of Vision Forward Association

MCTS Route Changes

MCTS has implemented route changes as of early March, 2021. Routes affected are Routes 15, 19, 31, 33, 35 and 52. Below are details on all of these changes.  More information can be found on the MCTS web site.

Route 15: Route 15 will become a high frequency route – meaning buses will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Buses will run more frequently on Saturdays while Sunday service will be similar to what it is today.

Route 15’s routing on the north end will be shortened to end at Capitol Drive and Richards Street instead of operating on Port Washington Road to Bayshore.

Route 15’s routing on the south end will be adjusted. Buses will travel south along 10th Avenue and Chicago Avenue, ending at Chicago & Drexel.

Route 19:
Route 19’s high frequency service will be expanded to include the S. 13th Street branch. This means that buses will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. along the entire route from Florist Avenue to Zellman Court.

Service on the S. 20th Street branch between National Avenue and College Avenue will be replaced by a new route, Route 20 (see Route 20 details).

Route 19 will no longer service National Avenue, S. 2nd Street or Plankinton Avenue. Buses will instead run on 6th Street between Greenfield Avenue and Kilbourn Avenue in order to shorten travel times.

Route 31 (State-Highland):
Route 31’s routing will be adjusted so that it only operates on Highland Boulevard, State Street, Watertown Plank Road and Mayfair Road between downtown and Mayfair Mall.

Service on State Street and Watertown Plank Road will be extended to Mayfair Mall via Mayfair Road.

Route 31’s service on Vliet Street and Milwaukee Avenue will be removed, but Route 33 (Vliet-84th) will be extended from 60th to Harwood Avenue to maintain bus service on these streets (see Route 33 details). Route 31’s service on Ludington Avenue and North Avenue will be removed due to low ridership.

Route 33 (Vliet-84th)
Route 33, which previously ended its westbound service at 60th and Vliet, will be extended.  Westbound buses will travel on Milwaukee Avenue, Harwood Avenue, and Harmonee Avenue and then south via Glenview Avenue and S. 84th Street to Greenfield Avenue. The route will then travel east to 76th and south to National Avenue.

These changes will expand connections to downtown Wauwatosa, State Fair Park, and downtown West Allis.

Buses on Vliet Street will run as often as they do today. Buses on Glenview Avenue and S. 84thStreet will run more frequently – 30 to 35 minutes as opposed to 50 to 60 minutes.

Route 35 (35th Street):
Route 35 will become a high frequency route – meaning buses will arrive every 15 minutes on weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Weekend service will run as often as it does today.

Route 35’s routing on the south end will be extended past Howard Avenue. Southbound buses will travel southwest on Loomis Road and then west on Layton Avenue to S. 60th Street.

Northbound buses will then use the freeway to get back to Loomis Road, resuming the regular northbound routing.

Route 52 (Clement-Pennsylvania):
Route 52 will be adjusted to become a Daytime route, meaning buses will run from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. seven days a week.

Weekend service will run more frequently than it does today.

For more detailed information on any route changes, go to the MCTS web site at https://www.ridemcts.com/programs/mcts-next/mcts-next-spring-update

Volunteer and Member News

One of Vision Forward’s members and longtime volunteer, Norman E. Koscinski, passed away this past Friday.  Norm and his wife Karen have both volunteered in support of many membership and recreation activities for over 10 years.  Often seen calling Bingo, Norm was a true voice for many membership activities and had a way of making many of the participants laugh.  Our thoughts and support go out to Karen and Norm’s family and loved ones.  Here is a link to the obituary with the service arrangements.

More than Meets the Eye

Whether you are new to Vision Forward or have been a supporter for years, we know you will find this video of our More than Meets the Eye experience to be informative and inspiring.

Due to macular degeneration and glaucoma, Betty Larsen has just enough vision to see the shapes of things, but no detail. Her vision loss hasn’t been an easy journey, but she is learning to adapt and move forward in life.

Betty shared her story at our More than Meets this Eye experience this past February.  We also talked with Dr. Heather Hinson, Vision Forward’s optometrist specializing in low vision, who shared her expertise on macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss among older adults.

Stay tuned!  We will be hosting More than Meets the Eye sessions throughout the year.

Vision Forward featured on Milwaukee’s Philanthropic Community

Milwaukee's Philanthropic Community

Vision Forward was featured recently on the Ellenbecker Radio Program on WISN Radio.  Terri Davis, Executive Director at Vision Forward,  joined Jim Kerlin, CEO at Beyond Vision, in a joint interview on the segment, Milwaukee’s Philanthropic Community, brought to the audience by Ellenbecker Investment Group.  This show highlights non-profit organizations and helps listeners understand how they can have a personal impact in our community.  Milwaukee’s Philanthropic Community airs every Sunday at 10 am on WISN AM 1130.

Thank you to Jill Economou, EIG Director of Community Outreach, for this great community awareness opportunity.  Here is a link to the segment that aired https://www.ellenbecker.com/milwaukeesphilanthropiccommunity.